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Old 11-19-2006, 08:25 AM   #1
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Default The key matchup: Fraley vs. Hampton

The key matchup: Fraley vs. Hampton

By The Tribune-Review
Sunday, November 19, 2006

Browns C Hank Fraley vs. Steelers NT Casey Hampton

Browns C Hank Fraley: It was the preseason from hell in Cleveland until the Browns stopped the bleeding at center by acquiring Fraley from the Eagles on Sept. 2 for a conditional draft pick. The Browns' problems started when free-agent addition LeCharles Bentley was lost for the season (knee) on the first day of training camp. Then backup Bob Hallen left camp and ultimately retired. Then the Browns signed Alonzo Ephraim as a free agent, who was subsequently suspended (substance abuse). Then the Browns acquired Ross Tucker from the Patriots, and Lennie Friedman from the Bears. Finally, the acquisition of Fraley halted the game of musical chairs at the position.

Steelers NT Casey Hampton: Hampton assumed the starting position at nose tackle for the Steelers early in his rookie season after being selected 19th overall in 2001. He's been entrenched in the middle of the defense ever since and was named the team's co-MVP a year ago (along with wide receiver Hines Ward) while earning his second trip to the Pro Bowl. Hampton has just 17 tackles this season, but the statistics don't begin to reveal how significant he's been clogging the middle for a Steelers' defense that hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in almost a year (Nov. 28, 2005, Edgerrin James, Indianapolis, 124).

The matchup: Hampton missed the Steelers' Oct. 29 loss in Oakland (hamstring) and still isn't 100 percent but has remained very effective at doing what he does best. Fraley, a Robert Morris product who was acquired by the Eagles off waivers from the Steelers in 2000 after signing with the Steelers as a rookie-free agent, has started all nine games at center for the Browns. He had started 71 of 72 career games with the Eagles, including playoff games, so Fraley has the experience to know what he's up against. He'll need to achieve at least a stalemate with Hampton for the Browns to have a chance to run the ball and take the pressure off quarterback Charlie Frye. EDGE: STEELERS

Last week: The Steelers' injury-plagued secondary surrendered 10 catches and 169 receiving yards to rookie wide receiver Marques Colston, but somehow got better as the game went along and managed to keep Colston out of the end zone. The Saints wound up with 393 net yards passing and 517 total nets yards, but lost the game, 38-31. EDGE: STEELERS

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Old 11-19-2006, 08:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: The key matchup: Fraley vs. Hampton

Hampton should dominate here!
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