Ed Bouchette checks in from Latrobe on the first full day of training camp, with this dispatch:
Casey Hampton did not show up for much of the voluntary spring drills in Pittsburgh this year. There were rumors he was spending time on a fat farm. If so, they must have watered and fed him pretty well on that farm.
Hampton may not be the Steelers starting nose tackle much beyond this season, provided they can come up with an option. He’ll be 31 before the season starts and if he’s not staying in shape now, what will he be like at 32? The problem is, good luck finding someone who can play as well as Hampton has since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2001.
He’s correct in one way in that all that matters is how he plays on Sunday. Hampton sounded much like Allen Iverson, the former Philadelphia 76ers star who had a run-in with coach Larry Brown over missing a practice.
“I know it's important,” Iverson said, “I honestly do, but we're talking about PRACTICE. We're talking about PRACTICE, man. We're talking about PRACTICE. We're talking about PRACTICE. We're not talking about the game. We're talking about PRACTICE. When you come to the arena, and you see me play, you've seen me play right, you've seen me give everything I've got, but we're talking about PRACTICE right now.”
In Hampton’s case, he’s talking about JULY. I mean, this ain’t September and playing real football that counts in the real standing. I mean, we’re talking about JULY and the start of training camp. There are six weeks before Casey Hampton needs to be in shape. We’re talking about JULY, not September. We’re talking about JULY, man. We’re talking about JULY.
But then, if everyone showed up for the first day of training camp in the kind of condition that Casey Hampton was, there would be no need for training camp – they’d have to bring in Richard Simmons and his diet team.
Tomlin let Hampton slide last summer, his first as coach, when he did not even participate in the run test. Perhaps he sent the wrong message back then, but he was determined to send a different one this time. -- Ed Bouchette
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