View Full Version : Steelers' Hoke is ready at moment's notice

11-01-2008, 03:02 AM
I think that Hoke has played more quality minutes than Big Snack this season. I'm not a fan of Hampton. I think being a veteran and a leader to the younger guys in the locker room, he should serve as an example of what to do, as opposed to what not to do. His poor discipline in the offseason has cost his team mates more than him. Just selfish.

Steelers' Hoke is ready at moment's notice
By John Harris
Saturday, November 1, 2008

Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton returned to the practice field Friday, which meant Chris Hoke was back on the sideline.

Hampton, who suffered a turf toe injury against the New York Giants, proclaimed himself ready to start in Monday night's game against the Washington Redskins.

"I'm straight. I'll play," Hampton said.

A day earlier, Hoke fielded questions about his role as Hampton's backup. Hampton has missed three starts this season because of injuries, with Hoke taking over in Hampton's absence.

What, Hoke was asked, is more difficult? Being ready to start at a moment's notice, or returning to the bench even when you're playing well?

"That is my job as a backup, to be ready whenever I'm called," Hoke said. "I've got to be able to go in there and make sure there's no dropoff.

"Whether I get five snaps or 50 snaps," Hoke said, "I've got to be able to play at a high level."

Hoke's three starts this season is his highest total since compiling 10 starts in 2004 when Hampton was out with a season-ending knee injury. That year, Hoke was part of a defense that helped the Steelers reach the AFC Championship Game against New England.

This season, the Steelers have the top-ranked defense in the NFL.

Hoke said he has a greater understanding of what his role encompasses. He said he has played long enough to develop a real sense of not only how he fits into the defense but what his opponent is attempting to do.

"I feel like I'm seeing the field pretty good. I'm feeling more of what's going on," he said. "I feel like I can sense things. I think it comes with experience, it comes with being in the defense, knowing where the ball's going, being able to react."

There's more to football than playing in the games. During practice, Hoke continues to push himself to improve. When Hampton missed the first two days of practice this week, Hoke received the first-team reps.

"I'm getting the snaps, and I'm taking full advantage of those snaps," Hoke said.

As for not starting, Hoke said it isn't about what he wants. It's about what's best for the Steelers.

"Of course, I want to start," said Hoke, who signed a four-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through 2010. "I know I'm playing behind a Pro Bowl player who's a heck of a player. I've got to put my ego aside and know that I'm on a good team, know that I'm playing for a good coach, and when my number is called, make sure I go out there and make the most of it."

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

11-01-2008, 06:38 AM
Hoke sums up what a Steeler is: tough, gritty, unselfish, no belly aching.

Hampton doesn't have all of these qualities. Unfortunately, for Hampton, the first image people have of him when is name is mentioned is his fat a$$ running laps in camp like he's a 7th grader who was late to gym class