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For this exercise, I am lumping defensive ends and defensive tackles together. The Steelers employ a 3-4 base defense, which moves players between those three spots, making them almost interchangeable.
At this point, the starters are set. Defensive end Brett Keisel will play the 5-technique on the right, and Ziggy Hood will be on the left. Hood is finally starting to come into his own, and Keisel continues to hold off the youngsters on this roster for a starting spot.
The new starting nose tackle is Steve McLendon, who replaces veteran Casey Hampton. McLendon is bigger this season and looks to be ready to anchor the middle of this defense. He plays with excellent leverage and a violent punch at the snap.
Primary backups for all three spots will be Al Woods, Cameron Heyward and Loni Fangupo. Fangupo will be the primary backup to McLendon and Woods and Heyward will be reserves for the ends.
Depending on the sets the Steelers use, any of these players could be asked to slide inside to a more traditional defensive tackle role, and based on preseason do so very well.
Overall, the talent among these six is very good. The Steelers staff is going to ask for more from this group in terms of pass rushing. This means when you are the next man up, you have better be ready to make a play.
LDE: Ziggy Hood
RDE: Brett Keisel
NT: Steve McLendon
Reserve: Cameron Heyward
Reserve: Al Woods
Reserve: Loni Fangupo