For 15 Days we will be counting down the Top 15 Greatest Steelers of the Bill Cowher Era. The list will have both offensive and defensive players, and in doing the list no kickers or punters were selected. Below is our number choice of the day building towards the number one Steeler of the Cowher Era.
Casey Hampton NT 2001-Present:
Steelers current nose tackle and man in the middle Casey Hampton is our number 10 on the list of the best 15 all-time in the Cowher Era. The Steelers have been lucky in that under Cowher there were really only two NT’s that mattered, Joel Steed, who was another solid player, and then Hampton, who was the team’s first round draft choice (number 19) out of Texas back in 2001.
Hampton came on the scene just in time, as a rookie he played in all 16 games, learning the ropes and getting set for what has been a very productive NFL career. In Hampton’s first three years in the league, he played in 48 games, and by 2003 was selected to his first Pro Bowl. He was on his way back to Hawaii in 2004, but suffered a tear of his ACL and missed the rest of the season. The team was able to still play at a high level, but Hampton was missed.
He returned in 2005, and once again played a huge part in the Steelers defense as the team made it all the way to Super Bowl XL. In that Super Bowl, Hampton had a key sack of Seattle QB Matt Hassleback. The amazing thing about the sack is when it came, as Hampton had only four career sacks going into the big game in Detroit. His ability to clog up the middle and usually take on double teams is another reason for his success, as his play usually allows another Steelers defender to come free and make the play.
For his career, he has played in 54 games regular season games, recording 117 tackles, four sacks, two passes deflected, and two forced fumbles. He also has recovered two fumbles. Ask any personal man in the league about Hampton, and most can tell you how difficult it is to try and stop him.
While Hampton will not make the Hall of Fame, or go down as one of the best Steelers defensive players ever, he is still regarded today as one of the toughest players in the league to block, and is a huge reason why the Steelers have the success they do on defense.
Tomorrow: Number #9
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