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Casey Hampton eyes Steelers' opener for return

Though he's only six months removed from surgery to repair a torn anterior crucaite ligament in his left knee, Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton plans to play in the regular-season opener against the Denver Broncos.

"I'm planning on coming back for the season," Hampton said Wednesday, according to James Walker of "That's what I'm looking at. That's realistic for me. I don't know about anybody else."

Hampton, who'll turn 35 less than a week before the opener against the Broncos, has had a rough offseason. In addition to the knee surgery, Hampton took a pay cut, going from $5.89 million in total compensation to $2.8 million. He also saw the team heap praise on his backup, Steve McLendon, and use a fourth-round pick on University of Washington nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu.

Judging by his comments, Hampton doesn't plan on conceding anything to his younger teammates.

"He's got to be strong, not necessarily thick," Hampton said of Ta'amu. "He's a big kid, though. He looks powerful. We'll see when we put the pads on."

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