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Hampton says run defense can get better


Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell has long been one of the top assistants in the NFL.
And sometimes he succeeds in helping develop five-time Pro Bowlers, such as Casey Hampton, by keeping it simple.
“Mitch told me, ‘Man, whupping a man’s ass makes up for a whole lot,’ ” the veteran nose tackle said, “and that’s what it’s all about.”
That anecdote came up as Hampton explained why he is not the most avid among Steelers players when it comes to studying film.
Hampton is one of the more entertaining interviews in the Steelers’ locker room, and not just because he punctuates one of the many funny lines he delivers with a full-belly laugh.
Take, for instance, Hampton’s reasoning for why Dick LeBeau, mad scientist that he is, should have Hampton drop into coverage more frequently.
“I’m a former linebacker, you know, back in the day. I had the sweetest drop, sweetest feet and drop, if you’ll check the tape,” he said. “I don’t know why you don’t see it too much, because I’m not getting any sacks, so I might as well drop back and try to cover somebody.”
Hampton gave one of his patented laughs, which in turn makes everyone around him laugh.
He turned serious when it came to an aspect of defense that has nothing to do with Hampton helping out in pass coverage. This one dealt with stopping the run, a Hampton and Steelers specialty for years.
The Steelers’ run defense seems to have righted itself since some early struggles contributed to the team’s 2-2 start. The Steelers rank sixth in the NFL in rushing defense, and are giving up an average of 97.0 yards per game.
“We’re doing a better job but it’s definitely not where we’re accustomed to being at,” Hampton said. “(Allowing) big runs, that’s not us and we’ve been doing that a little bit too much.”
The Hampton prescription for playing better run defense: whipping someone’s you-know-what much more than he whips your you-know-what and holding running backs to gains of no more than two or three yards.
Doing that Monday night in San Francisco may be paramount for the Steelers.
Containing 49ers running back Frank Gore and forcing San Francisco to become one-dimensional might be the best way for the Steelers stay in the game, especially if they need it to be a low-scoring one because of an offense that has been depleted by injuries.
The defense has allowed one touchdown since the middle of November, and Hampton, for one, isn’t satisfied with where it is.
That is probably a good sign for the Steelers.
“We still ain’t playing how we are capable of playing,” Hampton said, “especially against the run.”

— Scott Brown



  1. Doug Halfen says:

    Yup, shut down Gore, and you’ll make the 49ers regret, yet again, letting Aaron Rodgers slip through their fingers. Alex Smith was Mike Nolan’s (former Ravens DC) idea of a good QB; Nolan’s long gone now, but Smith remains, and Niners fans have suffered all the while…

    We need to make their running game go _backward_. And I expect nothing less from our D-Line and whichever LBs step up for this game.

    Let’s make sure that, come Tuesday morning, the West Coast knows that the Steelers were there and whupped some serious arse!!! ;^>

  2. eyeheartbrucearians says:

    Looks like Coach Lebeau is going to have to dial up a killer game plan, and special teams must surprise if the Steelers are going to win this one. Al Everest might be an ace in he hole with his knowledge of 49er’ s special teams’ tendencies.

    I wish the Steelers would play Dixon for a few series–regardless of Charlie’s performance–with a package of plays designed for his skill set. We can’t just play this one like “business as usual” without Big Ben.

    A win Monday night will really build confidence and momentum for the playoffs.

  3. Ollie says:

    I hope Dixon gets in the game too. The key to beating the 49ers will be stopping the run and blitzing the QB. Mendenhall and Redman will have to have good runs. As always though it will come down to the Offensive line play, which I believe is the most important unit in football.

  4. Rick says:

    For all you “I want Dixon in…” fans, he didn’t show me too much in preseason. He seems to have lost some edge or something from what he was last year and before his latest injury.
    Yes, he is mobile and can be a game breaker. But we do need the vertical passing game to function, and I didn’t see him performing well in that, for whatever reason. He didn’t seem sharp on his passes and picking up receivers.
    And as for Batch, with a week of #1 prep he should be OK. As I said last week when he stepped in. I think he, like the whole team at that time, was not really focussing on game, but Ben.

  5. Carl says:

    I agree with you Rick, didn’t look to me like he was ready to go in. Playing behind Ben will probably do that to anybody, you just don’t expect him to go down.
    If Ben can’t go Monday, Batch should be serviceable with a week of prep. Definately gonna be one of those close ones, the D will need to step up and win this. Give Batch some short fields and he can get us in the endzone….

  6. Scott P says:

    The Steelers should start Batch but have all 3 QB’s active for the game. I predict that Baltimore will lose to SD. Therefore, the Steelers will be playing for the division title on Monday night. They must do whatever is necessary to win this game.

    If Batch is ineffective, the coaching staff will have to act quickly. They can not afford to mail this one in.

    If my prediction proves to be incorrect and the Ravens win on Sunday, I would leave Ben home to get healthy for a wildcard playoff run.

  7. Dick says:

    I don’t think I would leave Ben at home if the Ravens win on Sunday. I do believe the Bengals could take them down in a couple of weeks. I like to hear the confidence of my Steeler friends here but (and I hope I’m wrong) believe we will be hard pressed to win with Charlie. This would be difficult especially with Ben not healthy and Pouncey being out, James Harris out, Woodley back for first time in several games, Polamalu less than 100 percent. Curis Brown and Arnez Battle, two of our best on special teams, appear to be doubtful. We need this game but I don’t like the way it is shaping up. Charlie or Ben, whoever starts, will need to be on top of their game and must get the ball to Wallace and Brown or else scoring will be hard to come by. Defense must really step up in this one. All this in addition to the travel to S.F. In spite of it all, I’m looking for the Steelers to pull it out 20 – 17.

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