Steelers Injury News: NT Casey Hampton Struggling with Elbow Issue

Aug 19, 2012; Pittsburgh , PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton (99) talks with teammates during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE

Steelers NT Casey Hampton, fortunately, isn't worried about his surgically repaired knee as he returned to practice recently for the first time since an ACL tear in January.

He provided some slight of hand, though. Or, slight of elbow.

Tribune-Review reporter Mark Kaboly wrote Thursday Hampton has an issue with his elbow, and went as far as to strongly suggest Hampton had surgery on it fairly recently.

The picture in the article shows Hampton sporting a significant brace on his left elbow, but Hampton says it's a matter of dealing with the pain as opposed to the injury limiting his ability to play.

The main issue isn't Hampton as much as it's Steve McLendon, who's looked strong at times this preseason, and not-so-strong at other points. He's been in on two sacks so far, one on Eagles QB Michael Vick, the other on Colts' QB Andrew Luck. He doesn't have the girth Hampton does, or his base strength, which very few people do. For the Steelers to be comfortable keeping Hampton on the bench on all three downs in favor of McLendon, he'd have to show big strides in those areas in Saturday's Preseason Week 3 game at Buffalo.

That isn't likely to happen, but none of this is a knock against McLendon. It just shows the reason why the Steelers rotate their defensive linemen throughout the game. Besides, Kaboly quotes Hampton as saying, ""I am pretty sure that I am not going to be in the best shape when I get back."

In the past, heat has been a concern with their first few games, and with it, the conditioning of their defensive linemen. Keeping fresh guys along the trench is a smart idea, and it's really how McLendon began his career anyway. On his second stint as a member of the Steelers' practice squad in 2010, McLendon was signed to the active roster for the Steelers' Week 2 game at Tennessee.

He's been helping sub out Hampton ever since.

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