The likelihood of Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton starting the 2012 season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list is very high. Hampton tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the wildcard loss to the Denver Broncos this past postseason.
Hampton, who is 6’1”, 325 pounds, will be sorely missed if he does start the season on the PUP list. Players on the PUP list aren’t eligible to play the first six games of the season, and with the Steelers having their bye week in Week 4, Hampton won’t be able to play until Week 8.
The 12-year veteran has been a main staple in Pittsburgh’s top-ranked defense. Hampton’s ability to take up space at the line of scrimmage gives the rest of the defenders clear paths to stuff the run and register sacks in the passing game.
Pittsburgh’s pass rush was decent last season, finishing with 35 total sacks (17th in the league).
If the five-time Pro Bowler is in fact on the PUP list to start the season, then rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu will have to step up quickly to the learning curve. Ta’amu was selected by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and is a carbon copy of Hampton.
In addition to Ta’amu’s expected contribution, second-year defensive end Cameron Heyward will have to step it up as well.
Both Heyward and Ta’amu would definitely help improve the Steelers’ 17th-ranked pass rush, especially with both James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley fully healthy.
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