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fordfixer
09-18-2010, 12:53 AM
Backup nose tackle Hoke is a super sub
By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, September 18, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 00125.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_700125.html)

He's a backup who thinks like a starter. In Chris Hoke's world, becoming the Steelers' first-team nose tackle is one injury away.

Casey Hampton injured his hamstring during the Steelers' season-opening win against Atlanta and didn't practice this week in preparation for Sunday's game at Tennessee.

Hoke replaced Hampton against the Falcons and will make his first start in two years.

"I always look for these opportunities," said Hoke, who will be making his 16th career start in his 95th NFL game. "This is why you play the game.

"It's a different mentality. When you're a backup, you sit on the sideline, and all of a sudden, you've got to be ready to go. (Now), I'll have to go from the very first snap and carry the load that Casey does."

Hoke joked that while it seems like Hampton engages a dozen blockers on every snap, he just tries to play his role - however minor it might be.

Don't believe the hype. Hoke doesn't possesses Hampton's girth, but he's also expected to defeat double teams and plug the running game.

"They don't change the defense for me. I've got to do the same things," said Hoke, who is 14-1 in games he has started in place of Hampton. "Casey plays a lot between the tackles, and that's what I'm expected to do.

"When you know there's a really good chance you're going to start, you pay attention to the details a little more."

Hoke started three consecutive games during the 2008 season as Hampton's replacement.

The Steelers defense didn't miss a beat then, and a similar pattern emerged when Hampton left in the second quarter against Atlanta.

The Falcons never got their running game going, finishing with 58 yards on 2.3 yards a carry.

"It's been a couple of years since I started and played a full game, but I think I'll be fine," Hoke said. "I'm going to get my rest and be ready to take as many snaps as I need to get the job done."