Steelers' Daniel McCullers ticketed to start against the Titans

PITTSBURGH -- Daniel McCullers, the mammoth defensive tackle whom the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted as a project in May, will make his first NFL start Monday night against the Tennessee Titans.

Veteran defensive line coach John Mitchell told Steelers Nation Radio on Thursday that McCullers will play in place of nose tackle Steve McLendon, who will apparently be held out of the Titans' game because of a bad shoulder.

"He's excited about," Mitchell said. "We're excited about it."

Steelers' fans are probably most excited about it.

They have been enamored with McCullers, who is enormous at 6-foot-7 and 352 pounds but also has surprisingly nimble feet.

McCullers played 10 snaps in the Steelers' 20-13 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday compared to 36 for McLendon, who will miss his third game this season because of a shoulder injury.

McCullers, the second of two sixth-round picks that the Steelers made in May, has played in three games this season and has been credited with one tackle.

McLendon was the only Steelers player who did not practice on Thursday because of an injury who has not already been ruled out for Monday. Safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) was limited in drills while safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) was a full participant in practice.

Thomas has missed the last two games and Vetrone did not play against the Jets.

The Steelers are hopeful that one or both of the reserve safeties and special-teams contributors will be able to play against the Titans.

Safety Troy Polamalu (knee), linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) were ruled out of the Titans game earlier this week by coach Mike Tomlin.