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Old 02-01-2009, 10:15 AM   #1
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Default Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

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Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton
By Ron Borges | Sunday, February 1, 2009 | http://www.bostonherald.com | NFL

TAMPA - The two deciding factors in tonight’s Super Bowl may be two guys you haven’t thought a moment about all week. So it often goes this time of year.

Most of the focus leading up to Super Bowl XLIII has been on a): Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and his associates, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, and whether anyone in the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary can cover them; and b): NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison and his pass rushing mates and whether anyone on the Cardinals can block them.

There has been much debate as well about the two quarterbacks, Arizona’s 37-year-old Kurt Warner and Pittsburgh’s young Ben Roethlisberger, and how they will fare in the season’s biggest game.

There has been the required discussion about injuries and their effect on Boldin and the Steelers’ Hines Ward and the pressures that are mounting on the two second-year coaches, Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Tomlin, and how that might affect them.

What there has not been much talk about is 325-pound Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton and 300-pound second-year Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein. Yet, when all is said and done, how they play may well decide the outcome more significantly than any other factor.

Hampton is a former Pro Bowl nose tackle who can be as disruptive a force in the middle as the Patriots [team stats]’ Vince Wilfork [stats]. He is a dominating force against the run and is well capable of collapsing the middle of the pocket if young Sendlein can’t hold him off. Although the Cardinals have been heavily dominated offensively by the pass all season, having thrown 658 times while running only 340, their playoff success has come in part because they’ve been able to run effectively enough to keep teams off balance. Hampton could change all that.

Arizona has seen a resurrection of disgruntled running back Edgerrin James, who has rushed for 203 yards in three playoff wins after gaining only 514 all season. That unexpected threat has opened things up for Fitzgerald, who has 23 catches for 419 yards and five scores in the postseason. In a sense, more has become less because Arizona has run the ball more (100 times) than it’s thrown it (95), yet had consistently big plays in the passing game. That is where Hampton comes in on both fronts.

“We don’t go much for that running thing,” Hampton said of a Steelers unit that is ranked No. 1 in total defense, pass defense and points allowed and second against the run. “The running game is all about attitude. You set your mind to running it you’re gonna run it. Our mind-set is you’re not going to run it. We’re going to make them one dimensional.”

If that happens, Hampton figures to play a key role. If Sendlein, a second-year player who was an undrafted rookie free agent a year ago, struggles to control him it will not only wreck havoc with Arizona’s running resurgence, but also put Warner in a potentially fatal situation.

If Hampton and inside linebackers Larry Foote and James Farrior can push the pocket by overwhelming Sendlein and whoever helps him from the guard positions, it will take away one of the most important things Warner needs to do tonight. He must be free to step up to make downfield throws because if he cannot it will force him to sit back directly in the crosshairs of the Steelers’ overwhelming outside pass rushers, linebackers Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

Tackles Mike Gandy and Levi Brown will have their hands full with them under the best of circumstances, but if Warner has no room to step up in the pocket, their jobs become more difficult and the Arizona offense is in trouble because when Warner has been under duress this season he has had an alarming tendency to drop the ball. Of the 26 times he was sacked, 15 came in losses. Worse, Warner has fumbled 11 times this season and lost seven. With turnovers critical in a game of this magnitude that penchant for losing the ball does not bode well if he is under pressure and finds Hampton in his face.

“It’s tough because they’re the No. 1 defense,” Sendlein said. “We have to have the threat of being able to run or pass. You can’t put a number on how many yards you need, but you want to be able to run the ball.”

Indeed the Cardinals do. What Casey Hampton and Lyle Sendlein have to say about that may well determine who goes home with the Lombardi Trophy tonight.
Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/f...icleid=1149183
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

I think Lawrence Timmons penetrating up the middle and getting in KW's face will be key. Big Snack can obviously help make that happen.
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:22 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

Yeah, they are going to have their hands full blocking Hampton.....

As will we blocking 300lb NT Robinson.

GO STEELERS!
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

hampton will be double and triple teamed all night so he prolly wont make any big plays but he will open up holes for farrior, foote, and polamalu to blitz which will be awesome.
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

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Originally Posted by TheWarDen86 View Post
..... penetrating up the middle.....will be key. Big Snack can obviously help make that happen.
no-different than Chicago's imposing defense in the '80s..... coming off the edge is nice, and provides good clips for ESPN, but going up the gut blows-up plays immediately, while totally confusing & disrupting offenses.
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

It will be interesting to see how many defensive plays Hampton is on the field for and sorry but there is no way in hell their center is going to block him one on one. Hampton must demand the double team when he is on the field. I really think their entire OL has a big task in front of them. Blocking Smith, Hampton, Harrison, Keisel and Woodley is very difficult and IMO I still believe we can generate pressure on Warner without having to blitz a lot.
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

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Originally Posted by 19ward86 View Post
hampton will be double and triple teamed all night so he prolly wont make any big plays but he will open up holes for farrior, foote, and polamalu to blitz which will be awesome.
Video was very funny!
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:27 PM   #8
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Default Re: Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

IMO, hampton isn't really that effective any longer. he can barely push his overweight body forward. i am comparing him to the old 325 hampton.

he needs to get down to 325 again.
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

He'll be effective as long as he doesn't get pushed back. They need 2 on him, so spread us out and double team #98 and let the sacks pile up!!!
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: Cards’ toughest test: Casey Hampton

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hampton will be double and triple teamed all night so he prolly wont make any big plays but he will open up holes for farrior, foote, and polamalu to blitz which will be awesome.
Watching Kurt run for his life will be awesome....they have no idea whats comming.
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