Steelers' Hampton still hopes to return after third ACL surgery

In a reversal of what the Pittsburgh Steelers had indicated, Casey Hampton will undergo surgery Friday for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Thursday.

Hampton, who suffered the injury in the AFC Wild-Card Game loss at Denver, will undergo his third ACL surgery, per the report. It will be his second ACL surgery as a member of the Steelers and the second on his left knee, according to the Post-Gazette.

The Steelers had said they did not think Hampton's knee required surgery.

Hampton, 34, told the Post-Gazette that he would like to play next season. But he could represent one of the "tough decisions" that team president Art Rooney II said the Steelers will face since they are $25 million over the salary cap. Hampton is scheduled to earn $4.8 million next season, but his cap value will be more than $8 million.

Hampton's cause could be helped by the retirement of longtime backup Chris Hoke at perhaps the most crucial position in the team's 3-4 defense. The other backup nose tackle is Steve McLendon.

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