The Long Road to 53: John Malecki


If there is one man on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster that knows how hard it is to make a 53-man roster, it is Pittsburgh native John Malecki. Since being an undrafted free agent in 2010, Malecki has been released 10 times (4 by Steelers) and has been apart of 23 seperate transactions.

Besides his time with the Steelers, Malecki has spent time with the Titans, Browns, Buccaneers, and Redskins. The undersized Malecki will not be denied another chance. With no practice squad eligibility left, Malecki knows that it may be now or never to become a player in the National Football League. That is just what he plans to do.

“He’s a great kid, an overachiever kind of guy,” Steelers offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. said. “Someone who gets every ounce of what the good Lord has given him out of his body. There’s not much he hasn’t seen at this point.”

The fourth year offensive lineman has had a productive camp in hopes of making the the team. Malecki is rarely out of position. When Bicknell talked about Malecki’s strengths he said the guard/center was “very smart,” has “great character,” and a “very hard worker.”

The only real weakness Bicknell would say about Malecki is size. Listed as 6’2″ and 300 pounds, Malecki reminds himself of another undersized, undrafted free agent who played with the black and gold.

“I looked up to Doug [Legursky] a lot and still do,” Malecki said. “He’s done a lot of great things as an undrafted free agent. He’s a smaller guy, like myself.”

As an undrafted free agent, Legursky made the 53-man roster and ended up starting in a Super Bowl at center for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It’s a frustrating business, but you have to understand that’s what it is exactly,” Malecki said. “You need to be singularly focused. Whether it’s being released in the offseason or released in training camp or released in the middle of the season, you’ve got to keep your mindset and keep working hard.”

In 2013, Malecki has a shot to make the 53-man roster as the 7th offensive lineman behind Kelvin Beachum. It will be interesting to see how many lineman the Steelers will keep. Coach Bicknell Jr. has stated before that he would like to keep eight on the roster. So as roster cuts get closer, it is important to watch the next three preseason games to see which lineman will make the cut.

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