Steve McLendon knows what the feeling was like losing to the Cleveland Browns, 20-14, on Nov. 25.
And while this Sunday’s game against the Browns at Heinz Field has no playoff implications, McLendon does not in any way, shape or form want to have that same feeling again.
“There is something at stake,” said McLendon. “First of all we’re playing against Cleveland. We don’t want to lose to those guys twice.
“You want to finish strong no matter what the situation is. The type of guys we have here, we don’t want to go out with a loss. We are all motivated this week. We just have to go out here and finish.”
A win would give the Steelers an 8-8 record, and while finishing .500 was not the goal when the season started, it would keep them from having their first losing season since 2003.
“The desire now is to finish 500,” said tackle Max Starks. “When you think about that, you never want to finish with more losses than wins. I have never done that in my entire football playing career and I don’t plan on starting that now. For me that is my drive and I think it’s a lot of guys drive. I don’t plan on ever finishing under 500. I don’t want that to start this year.”
Casey Hampton remembers that losing season when the Steelers went 6-10. He didn’t like it then, and he doesn’t want it to happen again.
“It’s been a long time,” said Hampton. “I remember that. It’s tough. You get paid to do a job you have to go out there and be professional about it and just make the best out of it.”
Hampton is well aware the team wouldn’t be in the position they are today if they would have pulled out some early season wins that they expected to have. But when they didn’t it put them behind the eight ball and time ran out.
“Early in the season you can’t give away games you are supposed to win,” said Hampton. “That comes back to bite you at the end of the day. You have to win those games early that you are supposed to so later on you can afford to drop a game or two when guys aren’t at full strength. You have to win the ones you are supposed to win early.”
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Hampton, in his 12th season with the Steelers, said he wants to continue to play but whether that is in Pittsburgh or elsewhere time will tell. Hampton will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and isn’t sure what his future holds.
“I definitely want to continue to play, whether it’s here or wherever,” said Hampton. “I definitely want to be here, but I understand it’s a business. Whatever happens will happen. I don’t have any control over that. I only have control over what I do on the field.”
Last year receiver Hines Ward retired rather than trying to play for another team, but Hampton is leaving his options open.
“I want to play and I feel like if somebody wants me to play for them I’m going to play,” said Hampton. “That’s just what it is. I’m a little different than Hines.”
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Cornerbacks Curtis Brown (ankle) and Keenan Lewis (knee), safety Troy Polamalu (not injury related), and receiver Mike Wallace (hip) did not practice on Wednesday. Tackle Mike Adams (ankle) was limited, while guard David DeCastro (hamstring) was a full participant.