Steelers open at home, play at Baltimore on Thanksgiving

Ravens will be opponent on Thanksgiving night

April 18, 2013

The Steelers found out Thursday they will open the regular season at home for the first time since 2010, hosting the Tennessee Titans Sept. 8.

The Steelers will play four nationally televised prime-time games, including a Thanksgiving night game against the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens in Baltimore. It will be Pittsburgh’s first Thanksgiving game since 1998.

The Steelers will have two Sunday night contests: Sept. 22 against the Chicago Bears and Dec. 15 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Both games will be at Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh’s other prime-time game is a Week 2 matchup against the Bengals in Cincinnati, Monday, Sept. 16.

The Steelers will travel to London for their first international regular-season game in team history, against the Minnesota Vikings Sept. 29. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (6 p.m. London time).

McLendon stays

Steelers restricted free agent Steve McLendon was in Green Bay Wednesday to visit with the Packers. On Thursday, Pittsburgh made sure McLendon wasn’t going anywhere.

The Steelers signed the 27-year-old McLendon to a three-year contract worth $7.25 million, possibly beating the Packers to the punch for the promising young nose tackle. The deal includes a signing bonus of $1.675 million.

McLendon, who made the team in 2010 as an undrafted rookie, is expected to move into the starting lineup this year as the replacement for veteran Casey Hampton. Hampton, 35, is a free agent.

Pittsburgh made McLendon, who had seven tackles and two sacks last season, a tender offer of $1.3 million as a restricted free agent, giving the Steelers first right of refusal on any contract offer he would receive.

In 37 career games with the Steelers, the 6-4, 330-pound McLendon has 22 tackles and three sacks.

After matching a one-year, $2.5-million deal last week that restricted free-agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders received from New England, the Steelers chose to act first with McLendon rather than let Green Bay set the market value.

With the contracts given to Sanders and McLendon, the Steelers are now less than $500,000 under the salary cap. They will, however, gain $5.5 million in cap space June 1, when the release of guard Willie Colon is finally placed on their books.

Dale Lolley has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1993 after previously working at WJAC-TV and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, and The Derrick in Oil City. A native of Fryburg, Pa., he is a graduate of North Clarion High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he earned a degree in journalism. He has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining the Observer-Reporter in 1993, and also serves as the outdoors editor. He also is a radio host for Pittsburgh’s ESPN 970-AM, and serves as administrative adviser for the Red & Black, Washington & Jefferson College’s student newspaper.

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