- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Nose tackle has suddenly become a priority for the Pittsburgh Steelers. A major one.
Casey Hampton told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he will have surgery Friday to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. This comes one day after long-time backup Chris Hoke decided to retire. The only other nose tackle with any experience on the Steelers' roster is Steve McLendon, and he is considered a backup player.
This news comes as a surprise because it was only two weeks ago that it was reported that Hampton didn't need surgery. This marks Hampton's third ACL surgery, two of which have come in his 11-year Steelers career.
The Steelers faced a tough decision with Hampton already because the five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle is scheduled to make $4.89 million, which is a big chunk for the cap-strapped Steelers. There had been talk that it wasn't a guarantee that the Steelers would release Hampton, but now comes this problem. Even if Pittsburgh somehow keeps Hampton, he most likely wouldn't be ready for the start of the regular season because he's having surgery less than eight months before the start of it.
Hampton, 34, injured his knee in the playoff loss in Denver earlier this month.
This is why Mel Kiper has the Steelers selecting Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe with the 24th overall pick in the first round. He is a space-eater who would be a great fit for the middle of the Steelers' 3-4 defense.