NFL from the sidelines
After hobnobbing around the NFL in the press boxes and sidelines, sports reporter Dale Lolley will let you know the insider scoop. Dale can also be heard as a sometime host on ESPN 970-AM. Follow him on Twitter at dlolleyor.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Hampton takes a cut
With Casey Hampton taking a cut in pay - it's a cut, not a restructure as some are reporting it - the Steelers' need to take a nose tackle high in the draft is a little less pressing.
And it again goes to show how the Steelers like to do business.
Pittsburgh never likes to go into a season being forced to rely on a rookie at any position, particularly on defense.
That's why there hasn't been a full-time rookie starter on the team's defense since Hampton and Kendrell Bell broke in there in 2001.
And even at that, Hampton and Bell had to earn their spots. They weren't handed the positions.
So the Steelers now have Hampton under contract, meaning they can ease a rookie into the rotation if he deserves it. The same goes at inside linebacker, where they are comfortable playing Larry Foote beside Lawrence Timmons if need be.
Certainly, things aren't so cut-and-dried on offense. But even in cases where rookies have come in and started - Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, etc. - the Steelers had veteran options around just in case things took a little longer than expected.
It's the Steelers way. And it's worked for some time.
So while fans may get upset that both Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin don't like to play rookies, the reality is that they don't like to HAVE to play rookies. And there is a difference.