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01-06-2010, 05:35 AM
Notebook: Hampton in ... or out?
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By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Wednesday January 6, 2010 12:12 AM

PITTSBURGH — If it’s up to Mike Tomlin, Casey Hampton will be back next year playing nose tackle for the Steelers.

The coach met with Hampton on Monday as he began his one-on-one exit interviews with every player and coach on the roster.

“I’m interested in Pro-Bowl caliber guys who happen to be great guys and great teammates,” Tomlin said when asked if he wants Hampton back.

Hampton, who’ll turn 33 by the time the 2010 season starts, will play in his fifth Pro Bowl on Jan. 31. He’s one of several regulars who are no longer under contract.

Hampton, who was disappointed that he didn’t get an extension before the ’09 season, has said he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh, but he’s also willing to enter free agency if the Steelers don’t make him a lucrative offer.

“I met with Casey Hampton and talked about what potentially could happen over the next couple months with him. But it is a process and it is in its infancy,” Tomlin said. “(His performance this year) was Pro-Bowl quality, and his round-trip flight to Miami (for the Pro Bowl) is indicative of that.” Mike Bires


After they were eliminated Sunday despite a win in Miami, several Steelers said they expected changes next season in terms of player personnel and assistant coaches.

Mike Tomlin agrees but doesn’t necessarily believe there will be wholesale changes.

“How much is too much?” the Steelers coach said. “We’re in the process of discovering that and reviewing that, but I’d like to think that we’ve got enough quality people and coaches that we’ll perennially be in the fight. (But) things rarely stay the same, so we’re going to proceed with that assumption in mind.

“I don’t approach making major changes in response to our (9-7) record or anything like that. I like to use the term appropriate changes, and those aren’t knee-jerk reactions or quick decisions. It’s built over time as we evaluate what put on tape. It’s a process, and we’re in the infancy of that process if you will. My mentality is and always will be to make appropriate changes. So, big changes are not something I necessarily buy into. Appropriate change is.”


For the most part, Tomlin said he had no problem with the Steelers’ effort and intensity during a five-game losing streak that ultimately knocked them out of the playoff chase. The lone exception was the 13-6 loss in Cleveland on Thursday, Dec. 10.

“The only time that I was legitimately concerned about our level of fight or our level of energy was in Cleveland when it was below the line,” Tomlin said. “We got out-hit and out-hustled, and that was a concern.”

Why would the Steelers come out flat against the 1-11 Browns in a rivalry game they knew they had to win?

“Short week, hostile environment, bad weather, all those things are excuses,’’ Tomlin said. “To me, that’s irrelevant. The reality is that we put it on tape. Discouraging, disappointing, it hacks you off … however you want to describe it.”


Next year, Ben Roethlisberger will have his third quarterback coach in his seventh pro season.

For Roethlisberger’s first three years, Mark Whipple served as QBs coach. For the past three years, it’s been Ken Anderson, 60, who told Tomlin on Monday that he’s retiring.

“I appreciate the work Ken has done here for us,” Tomlin said. “He’s an awesome guy and an awesome coach. He’s been in this league close to 40 years. I guess it’s OK to play a little golf if he so desires.”

Anderson played QB in Cincinnati from 1971-86.