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Old 06-18-2009, 12:55 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue


Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

By John Harris
Thursday, June 18, 2009

As Steelers coach Mike Tomlin delivered a not-so-subtle conditioning message to his players at the end of voluntary practices last week, one of his intended targets was nose tackle Casey Hampton, who is entering the final year of his contract.

Perhaps it was no coincidence that Tomlin also praised defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, the team's first-round pick.

At the start of training camp last year, Tomlin held Hampton out for the first week, when he failed to complete a conditioning run. When asked if Hampton is in better shape this year, Tomlin didn't exactly give Hampton a ringing endorsement.

"I'm always in a wait-and-see position (with Hampton)," Tomlin said.

When it came to Hood, a 4-3 defensive tackle at Missouri who is learning to play 3-4 defensive end, Tomlin had plenty of good things to say.

"The one thing that stands out about (Hood) is him running to the football," Tomlin said. "He covers a lot of ground for a big man. It's unique for his position.''

According to Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell, end is more difficult to learn than nose tackle.

Hood, though, has an advantage in that he is a natural one-gap defensive tackle, the type the coaching staff prefers (Hampton is a natural two-gap.).

One-gap nose tackles are counted on to attack and shoot the gap between the center and guard and make plays in the backfield. Two-gap nose tackles are expected to read and tie-up multiple offensive linemen, thereby allowing linebackers to make plays.

Perhaps Tomlin's comments regarding Hampton's conditioning is a signal that Hood could receive playing time at nose tackle early in his rookie year.

Also, the Steelers have veteran backup Chris Hoke, who started three games last season, when Hampton was injured, and rookie Ra'Shon Harris, a sixth-round pick out of Oregon.

For the moment, at least, Hood will play outside.

"I just know defensive end right now," Hood said. "That's what I'm working on. My goal is to focus on my job, not on anything else. If they move me to nose tackle, I'll have to pick up even more. With me playing end, I kind of know what the nose is doing.

"I've got great teachers, especially with Hoke and Big Hamp. With those guys teaching me, I'll be able to adjust to anything.

"I'll just have to be able to put more weight on, plus become a better player at that position if they decide to move me. Not to say I'm going to develop as much as Casey, but I'll probably be a little quicker. Maybe on passing downs, I can come in and aid them a little bit."

Like Tomlin, Mitchell addressed Hampton's conditioning issues after the Steelers drafted Hood in the first round.

"Casey, I think he was embarrassed when he came back (to training camp last summer) with the weight situation," Mitchell said.

If Tomlin doesn't think Hampton's conditioning is where it needs to be at camp, Mitchell sounded like he believes Hood - the first defensive lineman taken by the Steelers in the first round since Hampton in 2001 - can play defensive end and nose tackle.

"He is not going to have any problem learning our scheme because we ask our defensive ends to do a lot," Mitchell said. "It is easy to play nose tackle because we do a lot of things with them, but it is simple."

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

Nice read. I am starting to like Hood more and more. He should be a good player for us and who knows he might see some playing time this year.
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:03 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

It's good to know that Hood is versitile enough to play all of the positions on the D-line in case of injury.I hope "snaks" gets his weight under control but he will be great anyway.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

I think this is really a not-so-subtle message to Hampton that not only had he better get in shape, but also that we may be grooming his replacement for next year.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:54 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

i'd have thought after last years problem, hampton woulda realized that the extra blubber wasn't gonna fly with tomlin. dude should make an effort to avoid the buffets starting in about febuary.
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Old 06-18-2009, 02:26 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

he should know coach tomlin isnt playing when he benched him last yr at training camp. if he wants to keep his job, i suggest he does what the coach ask.

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Old 06-18-2009, 04:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

Hampton may be over weight but I never seen that effect his production on the field. He has been in the top 3 at his position since he came into the league.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:23 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

That's downright awesome if Hood can play NT as well as DE. That would take a LOT of pressure off of us in terms of who we draft as eventual replacements on the D-line.

Much better to have the choice of picking a DT or a DE instead of being forced into one or the other.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

All you have to do is tell Big Snack that the football is now made into a deep fried chocolate donut.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers' Tomlin addresses weighty issue

Hood is going to be a helluva football player.

As far as Hampton, I don't think he's having weight issues right now, but that can quickly change now that OTA's are over and guys are out of the coaching staff's sight.

I think this is just a reminder to Hampton to mix some salads in with his meals.

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