Tag:Casey Hampton
Posted on: November 19, 2010 10:49 am
Edited on: November 19, 2010 10:58 am
 

Week 11 Key Matchup: Raiders-Steelers on ground

Posted by Andy Benoit

If you’re a fan of smashmouth football, you’re salivating at this Sunday’s showdown between the second-ranked Raiders run offense and the first-ranked Steelers run defense. Oakland’s suddenly effective ground game has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season. Darren McFadden, once a raw, oft-injured first-round bust has blossomed into a bona fide feature back. McFadden leads the league with 108.1 yards per game on the ground, and he’s amongst the league leaders in yards after contact. Bruising backup Michael Bush is also chipping in 46.3 yards per game. D. McFadden (US Presswire)Pittsburgh D (US Presswire)

McFadden’s success on the ground has come primarily on tosses and off-tackle runs (i.e. outside). The Raiders have utilized more six-man lines this season, and the athleticism of rookie left tackle Jared Veldheer has allowed for more movement-based concepts to be incorporated into the run-blocking scheme.

This is particularly noteworthy for Sunday because, as important as nose tackle Casey Hampton and strong safety Troy Polamalu are, the key to Pittsburgh’s run defense has always been the defensive ends. (This is one of the best kept secrets in football, by the way.)

While most 3-4 defenses prefer space-eating anchors at end, the Steelers have always relied on undersized but athletic chaos creators. Instead of commanding double teams on the edge through sheer power, the Steelers aim to command doubles through lateral movement. Essentially, if an end can be disruptive going east and west, he’s going to force the offensive tackle AND either the guard or tight end to engage.

This uncommon approach naturally breaks down a blocking scheme. When a 3-4 end simply holds ground, he’s reacting to an offense. By getting movement on the outside, the Steeler ends force offenses to react to THEM. Thus, the three Steeler defensive linemen dictate the terms of engagement against the five offensive linemen. Three on five? If that battle simply results in a draw, the Steelers win, as the numbers mismatch frees up the linebackers and safeties to play in downhill attack mode.

Of course, getting movement as a 3-4 end is not easy to do – if it were, every team would follow Pittsburgh’s blueprint. The Steelers have been fortunate to have two perfect veteran ends for their scheme: Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith (it’s not just lip service when Steelers coaches and players claim Smith is the defense’s most valuable player).

Problem is, Keisel and Smith are both out Sunday (Keisel is not yet ready to return from a bad hamstring; Smith is doubtful for the remainder of the season with a torn triceps). Recent first-round pick Ziggy Hood has shown flashes, but he’s an inconsistent starter at this point. And, by most accounts, journeyman Nick Eason was been ho-hum filling in at the other end position.

As effective as McFadden and Bush have been, a full-strength Steelers D-line would have little problem stifling Oakland’s rushing attack. But a depleted Steelers D-line levels the playing field. This is what makes Sunday’s matchup so intriguing.

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Posted on: November 12, 2010 5:57 pm
 

The NFL to the Steelers: 'Our bad, guys!'

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

This should make Steelers fans feel better. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the NFL has informed Pittsburgh that two costly penalties that occurred during its victory against the Bengals last Sunday were incorrectly called.

The plays in question were NT Casey Hampton’s roughing-the-passer penalty against Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer and CB Ike Taylor’s pass interference penalty that happened on the very next play.

Those infractions helped pave the way for Cedric Benson’s touchdown run that cut the Steelers lead to 27-21.

The news of this is made easier to swallow because even with the WHOLE WORLD against Pittsburgh, the Steelers managed to pull out the victory.

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Posted on: September 19, 2010 11:35 am
Edited on: September 19, 2010 12:05 pm
 

AFC Inactives: Week 2

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Names of people who are ACTIVE include Todd Heap and Lardarius Webb.

Keith Rivers, LB, Bengals: He's been bothered by a bad foot, and that's bad news for the Bengals defense. Rivers might be the best LB on the roster, and Cincinnati's run defense will suffer from his absence. Brandon Johnson will take his place.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Browns:
This is no surprise. He was doubtful coming into the weekend with an ankle injury, and now, it's official. Seneca Wallace, who doesn't have the throwing potential of Delhomme but has good scrambling ability, will get the start.

Jon McGraw, FS, Chiefs:
He was expected to start - especially after being in the lineup in Week 1 - but instead, Kansas City's coaches are going with the youth movement. The Chiefs will start fifth-round pick Kendrick Lewis, who's exceeded expectations in his first season, and together with Eric Berry, that's a very young safeties corps.

William Hayes, DL, Titans: After missing the season-opener last week, it was thought Hayes possibly could play today. Hayes, in fact, said this week that if he was needed, he definitely could go against Pittsburgh. Ultimately, a lack of conditioning might have been the reason he's not playing.

Casey Hampton, NT, Steelers: With Titans RB Chris Johnson coming to town, this isn't great news for Pittsburgh, even though everybody knew this was going to happen. Chris Hoke likely will take his place.

Jared Gaither, OT, Ravens: The right side of Baltimore's offensive line still remains in limbo, because Gaither still hasn't recovered from his back injury. He says he's doing well and recovering, but that hasn't translated into anything on the field. Marshal Yanda gets the start in his place.

Ikaika Alama-Francis, LB, Dolphins:
He missed last week with an illness, and he was scratched about 90 minutes before Miami's win at Buffalo. Apparently, he's still sick, and apparently, Koa Misi, who had a good game last week, has passed him on the depth chart.

Paul Posluszny , LB, Bills: We knew this already. Posluszny is out a couple weeks with a knee injury. But it's worth noting that perhaps the happiest player about this news is Green Bay TE Jermichael Finley. He might be in for a big day.

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Posted on: September 18, 2010 12:04 pm
 

Hot Routes 9.18.10: Haley hates your fantasy team

Posted by Will Brinson

It's a morning (well, close to it in this case) collection of stuff for you to read. In this case, while you watch football. Send suggestions to us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) and if you're nice we'll include them.
  • Todd Haley is totally aware of your fantasy football team. He's also totally aware that you spent much of Monday night (and will spend much of Sunday) screaming at him for playing Thomas Jones as much as Jamaal Charles (and at Jones for even existing). And you know what? He doesn't care .
  • Here's a nice little story about how the Browns are familiar with the Chiefs defense. But it's much, much more valuable reading for the quote from Eric Mangini about the time he lived in the same house with Romeo Crennel and they were both really, really fat .
  • Chad Ochocinco is on a Dwight Schrute "black Bears are best" type of Twitter rampage, hitting up some "facts." My favorite ? #fact I will smashed by Ray Lewis at some point in the game, i will jump as usual n continue to talk shh, why? I ain't got no sense #shrugs
  • BShrout of Mile High Report takes a gander at "Yards Per Point" and how it's relative to a team's long-term success. (As in, over the course of a season, if a defense forces teams to require more yards per point, their opponents won't score as many points. Or, if an offense requires lots of yards per point, they're unlikely to score as often. I think that's what happening -- either way, good stuff.
Posted on: September 17, 2010 7:29 pm
 

Chris Johnson vs. the Steelers front seven

C. Johnson hasn't had great success in the past against Pittsburgh (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

I wondered if Andy, in his weekly key matchup feature, would look at how the Steelers front seven would try to shut down Titans RB Chris Johnson.

Andy went with Michael Vick vs. the Lions defense (read it; it’s a fascinating look), so that leaves me to make sense of the Tennessee-Pittsburgh game.

Johnson, as you know, has 12-straight games where he’s rushed for at least 100 yards. That’s two off Barry Sanders’ all-time record. But remember, the Steelers are traditionally pretty good at stopping the run – in the past 35 games, an opponent has reached the century mark in rushing only once (Baltimore’s Ray Rice).

So, what will happen Sunday? Well, if the past is any indication, it could be a long day for Johnson. Last year, in the season opener, he gained 57 yards on 15 carries, and the season before, he was held to 69 yards.

But the past two seasons, Johnson – no matter what Adrian Peterson thinks – has been the best RB in the league. Yet the Steelers have their gameplan.

"It's a big priority,” OLB LaMarr Woodley told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "You stop the run, you force a team to go to its passing game, which allows us to bring a little heat and get to the quarterback.

"We hit him as a team (the past two seasons). We constantly got to him. When running backs are taking hits after hits from big guys, they slow down a little bit."

True, but not every team can boast the tackling skills of Woodley, James Farrior and James Harrison. This week, though, Johnson might catch a break because starting NT Casey Hampton is out for the game.

Most important for the Steelers is for the defense to maintain gap control.

"He's not real heavy but he's so fast and strong," NT Chris Hoke told the paper. "He jump-cuts on a dime, he's very quick at making his reads. You have to make sure you're gap-sound on every play because he gets a little crack and he's gone.

"It's easy for a guy like that, to get everybody a little over-excited – you want to make sure he doesn't make a big play so maybe you get out of your gap a little bit and you run to the ball and he cuts back when you're running to the ball. You have to make sure you stay square to the line of scrimmage so there is no cutback lane."

And what does Johnson – and his teammates – have to do in order to get that 100-yard game? The Titans offensive line has to work harder than the Steelers.

"One thing they do a lot of times is just outwork guys," Titans guard Leroy Harris told the Tennessean. "Every guy is working to the whistle, no matter what. Their technique is sound. They hold responsibility. They do their job. They outwork guys and they keep running to the ball.

"You can’t let the other guy outwork you. You don’t let the other guy make the play. We’ll do that. We also make sure we see the different looks they have and the blitzes they have. We get bodies on guys."

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Posted on: August 4, 2010 10:10 pm
 

Casey Hampton doesn't like training camp

Steelers veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton doesn’t like training camp. And he’s not shy about admitting it. “It's well-documented I really don't enjoy training camp," Hampton said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. C. Hampton (US Presswire)

Hampton signed a three-year, $21 million contract over the offseason. In the contract is a $1 million weight clause. There haven’t been any reports about his weight thus far, but the 300-and-whatever-pounder hasn’t practiced since Saturday, thanks to a sore hamstring. Hampton, who turns 33 in September, isn’t worried. "I'm in good shape. I'm going to be ready to go when it's time to go. I'm not trying to make the team right now. It's all about getting healthy and trying to stay healthy."

--Andy Benoit

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