Notebook: Hampton losing weight

With a night practice, there was plenty of time to get the real Steelers news at St. Vincent College. We start with an update on Casey Hampton.

LATROBE – In spite of claims by Casey Hampton that he doesn't watch the scale, the Steelers' nose tackle has been weighed every day – along with the rest of the team – and he's lost close to 15 pounds since reporting to camp at 360 pounds.

The Steelers will keep him sidelined another seven days and hope he loses another five pounds to get within range of his assigned weight of 335.

Hampton worked with conditioning assistant Marcel Pastoor once again Tuesday morning on a practice field at St. Vincent College. Hampton ran laps and then sprints and then worked on his short-area quickness. The weight's coming off and Hampton appears to be regaining the quickness that made him a four-time Pro Bowler.

Hampton will turn 31 before the opener. He's ignored team requests over the years to hire a personal trainer because "being out of shape is the worst possible thing for a defensive lineman," said one source. Hampton's contract expires after the 2009 season, and he's been reminded that $40,000 for a personal trainer could earn him $40 million on the back end of his career. But, so far, Hampton has ignored the plea.


Fullback Carey Davis didn't blink when told offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was devising a 5-tight end offense that would make not only his position obsolete, but the halfback position as well.

"I know better," Davis said in calling the reporter's bluff. "The fullback role in this offense is still the same."

Arians does love his 3-tight end alignment, though. He even used four at the goal line for the final rep Sunday night, but Heath Miller, who motioned into the fullback spot, couldn't lead Rashard Mendenhall to paydirt.

"I'm not worried," Davis said. "I'll still have a role in this offense, be it as a fullback, a third-down back, maybe even short-yardage."

Davis said he spent the offseason building up his shoulders and neck.

"That was my main problem last year," he said. "I wasn't used to banging like that and had some shoulder and neck soreness. But that comes with the offense, and I learned that, so I tried to correct it."


Last year, Brett Keisel picked up his hand and played a roving linebacker position in what was called "the mixer" alignment out of the pass-downs "quarter" package. This year, Keisel and Troy Polamalu will be joined as rovers by Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, James Harrison and ...

"Everybody will be doing it," said Keisel. "No. Wait. Aaron (Smith) won't be doing it. He's the only guy who'll have his hand down. We tried to get his (butt) to move, but he won't do it."


Hines Ward, once again the best and most consistent receiver at camp, was asked how many more years he has in his 32-year-old body.

"I have three or four more good years, I think," he said. "I don't know. The day I wake up and you don't see a smile on my face when I come out here ready to go to practice, I'll walk away from the game. I haven't shown that I can't get separation from anybody, so play until they get rid of me I guess."


The rule that allowed officials to guess at whether a receiver would've come down in bounds had he not been pushed by a defender has been abolished. Physical cornerbacks will be the beneficiaries.

"Yes, it can be a big help for us, but you don't want to push him too early and get hit with a flag," said Bryant McFadden. "That rule deals more with jump balls. If you get a chance to push him out, it's incomplete, which can be an advantage for us."

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