Steelers: K to M

With the season in the books, it's time to break down the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster, and we'll move along alphabetically in a 5-parter. Here's K through M:

34. Brett Keisel, DE – This guy's getting better with age. He not only led the Steelers with 40 quarterback pressures, he had 21 more than runner-up Lawrence Timmons. It was a career-high for Keisel, and the second-highest of any Steeler in the Dick LeBeau II era (James Harrison had 44 in 2008). Keisel also made 58 tackles and recorded 4½ sacks, both second-best totals in his career. At 34, Keisel enters the final year of his contract virtually assured of raking in all of his $2.83 million in salary.

35. Justin King, CB – Signed in December, the Steelers won't forget about this veteran on draft day. Even if Keenan Lewis leaves in free agency the Steelers will have Cortez Allen to move into the starting lineup and King and Curtis Brown as nickel backs. King was a full-time starter for the Rams in 2011.

36. Byron Leftwich, QB – There might not be anyone in the Steelers' locker room who garners more respect from coaches, teammates, media – whomever's in there – than Leftwich. But, it does appear that it's time for him to call it a career. The poor guy can't get through a series without getting injured and most likely won't have his contract renewed.

37. Doug Legursky, C-G – Another free agent, Legursky's value stems from the fact he can backup two different positions. But another backup C-G crept into the picture last season, so minimum wage for Legursky is my limit.

38. Keenan Lewis, CB – He proved himself as a capable, above-average, physical corner just in time for free agency. And Lewis wants to stay and is willing to take a reasonable $35 million contract over five years. SCI's Ian Whetstone projects that would come to a $3 million cap hit this year. So it appears as if it'll either be Lewis or Mike Wallace, the old childhood buddies, in line for the only big-money deal from the Steelers. And judging by the word Wallace is putting out, that deal is more apt to go to Lewis.

39. Joe Long, OT – The younger brother of Dolphins All-Pro LT Jake Long, Joe was a three-year starter at LT at Wayne State in Detroit. He spent time with the St. Louis Rams but was released before the 2012 season and was signed to the Steelers' practice squad last November. The 6-6, 308-pounder will turn 24 before training camp.

40. John Malecki, OG – I've liked Malecki's game ever since he stuffed big mouth Marvin Austin in Pitt's bowl a few years ago. The Steelers could allow Legursky to leave as a free agent and promote Malecki to become Maurkice Pouncey's backup. Malecki also played some RT during practices last season.

41. Jamie McCoy, TE – Not much has changed for this tight end who doubles as an emergency fullback, except that he's used up his eligibility for the practice squad and had his number changed to 82 after the arrival of Plaxico Burress. McCoy did play in his first NFL game, but didn't record any statistics in the finale against Cleveland.

42. Marshall McFadden, ILB – I still haven't asked him about his alma mater, or in particular what South Carolina State has done to honor the great Donnie Shell. But there'll be time for that because after leading the Steelers with 12 unassisted tackles last preseason McFadden was kept throughout the season. He was called up from the practice squad twice and made his first special-teams tackle against the Ravens.

43. Walter McFadden, CB – The cousin of former Steelers CB Bryant McFadden, Walter was added to the practice squad before the final game of the season but hasn't been given a futures contract.

44. Steve McLendon, DT – Doesn't hold the point as well as Casey Hampton in short-yardage situations, but McLendon clearly makes plays. In 139 snaps, McLendon had 2 sacks, 6 pressures, 2 other tackles-for-loss, and 1 forced fumble (and wasn't credited with what should've been a third sack). In 503 snaps, Hampton had 0 sacks, 9 pressures, 5 tackles-for-loss, and no forced fumbles. McLendon's playmaking skills are the reason so many of us have been clamoring for him to receive more time at defensive end, and which is probably why the Steelers still list him as a defensive tackle even though they run a 3-4 scheme. But in a season marked by injuries at every other position, the Steelers remained healthy along the defensive line. After four seasons with the Steelers, though, it's obvious that McLendon should receive more than 139 snaps. Many more.

45. Rashard Mendenhall, RB – The conundrum this former first-round draft pick presents is that he's a zone runner who lacks quality vision out of the backfield. But with the Steelers most likely heading to a full-time zone-blocking scheme with their array of athletic linemen, Mendenhall could be given one more chance, particularly since the rest of the backfield – as he is himself – is on the verge of entering free agency. After hearing a wide range of conflicting opinions from team sources, it's my guess the Steelers will attempt to bring Mendenhall back at a low price.

46. Heath Miller, TE – Led the team with 71 catches and tied Mike Wallace for the team lead with 8 touchdown catches. Was voted MVP in an easy choice by his teammates, but will likely be brought along slowly in 2013 after tearing the ACL in his right knee in the season finale. Miller's an A- blocker, an A receiver, and an A+ human being.

47. Kashif Moore, WR – Interesting speed athlete who was signed this past week. A New Jersey prep track star, Moore caught 126 passes (13.5-yard avg.) in four seasons at Connecticut, where he was a team captain and received high marks for his personality and character. The 5-9.1, 180-pounder ran a 4.39 at the 2012 combine and topped all with a vertical jump of 43½ inches. He also pushed up the 225-pound bar a respectable 19 times. Moore wasn't drafted, but signed with the Bengals and bounced to the Colts, Chargers and Texans before signing a futures contract with the Steelers on Jan. 28. He'll likely receive a long look as not only a receiver but as a kickoff return man due to the release of Chris Rainey. Moore returned 8 kickoffs (21.1 avg.) at UConn.

48. Derek Moye, WR – Ben Roethlisberger likes tall targets, so that gives the 6-4¼ Moye a chance with the Steelers. A former Pennsylvania schoolboy 200 and 400-meter champ, Moye caught 144 passes (16.6 avg.) at Penn State, where he served as a team captain before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Dolphins. He was waived last summer and joined the Saints and then the Steelers, who signed him to their practice squad in November.

49. Ryan Mundy, S – Few are giving Mundy much of a chance to return to the team next season. He started his fourth NFL season as Ryan Clark's replacement at free safety in Denver, and then replaced Troy Polamalu at strong safety for two starts, and was Polamalu's early replacement against the Eagles in the fourth game. But the Steelers deemed his play sub-standard in those games and they turned to Will Allen as the top replacement at safety. After making 20 tackles in his first four games, Mundy made only 7 the rest of the season and isn't expected to return as an unrestricted free agent.


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