PITTSBURGH -- Veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton is still targeting to play in the regular-season opener, which would be eight months removed from tearing his ACL.
"I’m planning on coming back for the season," Hampton said Wednesday. "That’s what I’m looking at. That’s realistic for me. I don’t know about anybody else.
The Steelers will have to make a decision on Hampton's status when they report to training camp in late July. They could put him on the physically unable to perform list, which would make him ineligible to play in the first six games of the regular season, or keep him on the active roster.
Hampton said he has yet to practice but he spent the time at Steelers mandatory minicamp running.
Has anyone mentioned the PUP list to Hampton?
"Nah, I can’t see that happening," he said. "I feel like I’m ready to go."
Hampton isn't the only one being optimistic. "The one edge Casey will have on anybody is that he's been through this [injury] twice," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in February. "He knows what to expect. He knows how to do this. He knows how much work he has to do and he knows how he feels."
If Hampton isn't ready, Pittsburgh has two options: go with backup Steve McLendon or rookie fourth-round pick Alameda Ta'amu. Asked about the massive 6-foot-2, 348-pound Ta'amu, Hampton said, "He’s got to be strong, not necessarily thick. He’s a big kid, though. He looks powerful. We’ll see when we put the pads on."