Possible Surprise at Defensive End

Steve McLendon (Bridge photo/USPRESSWIRE)

Cameron Heyward won't be the choice if Ziggy Hood can't play Monday night in San Francisco. Find out the surprise replacement below:

PITTSBURGH -- Steve McLendon said he was used "the majority of practice" with the first team on Monday.

The third-year player moved from nose tackle to left defensive end and could make his first career start Monday night in San Francisco in place of Ziggy Hood, who left last Thursday's game with a groin injury.

Hood said after the game that it was only a "slight strain" and that he'll play in San Francisco, but the Steelers will get McLendon ready just in case.

McLendon played well at defensive end when pressed into service against the Browns.

"It's different in every way," McLendon said. "You're far off the ball. You've got to be in better shape to play. You've got to read more. You've got to see more. Guys are tall and long at tackle, and that's one difficult part of it. How you overcome it is with great technique. That's what the coaches prepare us during the week for – opportunities in times like that."

Rookie first-round pick Cameron Heyward initially replaced Hood against Cleveland, but McLendon finished with the majority of snaps.

Early on he was a key cog in blowing up the third-and-goal play that forced the Browns to kick a field goal. McLendon also made two tackles, including half a sack. He could've been credited with another half sack, but a full sack was instead awarded to Jason Worilds on the final play of the game.

"All the guys already said teams were going to come at me because I'm a young guy," McLendon said. "But the standard is the standard and I live for the moment. I thrive on stuff like that. If you wanna come at me, I'm just going to bring it back at you."

The Steelers bolstered their shortage on the defensive line by adding NT Elisha Joseph to their practice squad. Joseph, out of Temple, was on the team's practice squad from Oct. 18 to Nov. 2. Also signed to the practice squad was running back Chad Spann from Northern Illinois.

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