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mesaSteeler
01-28-2009, 08:05 PM
NFL: Steelers' Hoke always ready in reserve
http://www.sltrib.com/sports/ci_11573219
By Kurt Kragthorpe

The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 01/28/2009 06:54:18 PM MST

Tampa, Fla. Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton is a Pro Bowl regular and a member of the franchise's All-Time Team. All he lacks is a record like Chris Hoke's.

The backup lineman from BYU was a fill-in starter three times early this season when Hampton was injured, and the Steelers won all three games. That improved Pittsburgh's regular-season record to 14-1 in the past five years with Hoke in the lineup, as he is occasionally known to remind his teammates.

"If you ask him, he'll be sure to tell you," former BYU teammate Brett Keisel said during an interview session Wednesday at the University of South Florida, where the Steelers are practicing for Super Bowl XLIII.

"Not bad, huh?" Hoke said of his record as a starter. "It's not me. When a Pro Bowler is injured, a lot of guys tend to step up and elevate their game, which makes it easier for me."

It is remarkable for Hoke to ever have found himself in such a position. Undrafted in 2001, the same year Hampton was the Steelers' first-round pick, Hoke was released twice, spent time with the practice squad and never appeared in a game during his first three NFL seasons.

Yet he was often the first defensive lineman to arrive at the team facility every day, preparing "like he was going to play," said defensive line coach John Mitchell.

Eventually, that happened, and Hoke has stuck around for eight seasons. Keisel labels him "one of the ultimate Steelers," and Mitchell endorses him as someone who "could start for almost any team in the league."

That's not scheduled to happen Sunday for the Steelers, but Hoke will take the field at some point, having appeared in every game this season.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

XxKnightxX
01-28-2009, 08:26 PM
When Hoke played the whole 04 season that defense did not miss a beat even though Casey wasnt there. Hell of a back up that we have and I dont think he has any intentions of leaving the organization.

markymarc
01-29-2009, 06:31 AM
Depth is a very good thing. Hokie has done very well when getting on the field and starting when Hampton was out. Here's to Hokie making a few plays on Sunday.

KeiselPower99
01-29-2009, 10:47 AM
HOKIE!!!!!!

CargoJon
01-29-2009, 11:14 AM
Hoke's a good guy. I met him a year or so ago when they opened up the Steelers HOF at Heinz. Really down to earth dude.