In Terms Of Nose Tackles, Barry Cofield Views Casey Hampton As The Best
ASHBURN – Barry Cofield watched film to prepare for his second season as a nose tackle with the Washington Redskins. A lot of film.
Cofield wouldn’t just watch his own performances from last season, either. He’d watch film of some of the other defenses in the league that run the 3-4 – including Pittsburgh and venerable nose tackle Casey Hampton.
“I’ve called Casey the godfather of the position, and I mean it,” Cofield said. “I’ve always loved the Steelers and the brand of defense they played. When I came here, it was something that [defensive coordinator Jim] Haslett always referred to – the Steelers and Casey and Joel Steed and the great nose tackles that he coached. It’s a defense that we look to.”
A defensive tackle in a four-man front during his first five years with the New York Giants, the Redskins projected Cofield as a player who could make the transition to playing nose tackle when they signed him before last season.
Haslett, the defensive coordinator for the Steelers from 1997-99, has expressed his belief that Cofield can be one of the best nose tackles in the league because of how disruptive he can be.
That’s what Hampton, in his 12th season, has done in Pittsburgh. The 6-foot-1, 325-pounder was drafted in the first round out of Texas in 2001, has played in five Pro Bowls and has been a constant for the Steelers’ defense.
“[He] sets a tone in the middle of the defense, if you will,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “Casey is a guy that takes a great deal of pride in, of course, not being moved and maintaining an interior presence. That’s always a great place to begin in regards to playing good defense.”
Cofield learned quite a bit watching tape of Hampton during the offseason – stance, hand placement, and other particulars that reinforced his knowledge of the position.
“A lot of people just think it’s big men smashing into each other, but there’s also a lot of intricacies, a lot of things that go into playing that position, and it’s a lot of things that I didn’t really grasp my first year and stuff that I feel a lot better with right now,” Cofield said.
“Hopefully the next crop of nose tackles are going to watch Barry Cofield tape.”