Notebook: Everett news getting better

Dr. Andrew Cappuccino (David Duprey/AP)

Sunday's game between the Steelers and Buffalo Bills could become a cause for celebration for all football fans, if the news on Kevin Everett continues to get better.

PITTSBURGH – Casey Hampton can be a visionary at times, but there's another reason he knew Kevin Everett was moving his arms and legs while the media reported otherwise.

"We have the same agent," Hampton said. "He talked to his mom the day after it happened and he was already moving."

Hampton, of Galveston, Texas, is practically neighbors with Everett of Port Arthur, Texas.

"I see Kevin all the time. I work out with him," Hampton said. "I think he'll be all right."

Everett, of course, injured his spinal cord Sunday while making a tackle. It was feared initially that Everett would become a quadriplegic, but each day brings more optimism over a possible recovery.

"He's going to be fine. I really believe that," said Everett's mother, Patricia Dugas. "We may be witnessing a minor miracle," said Buffalo Bills orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Cappucino.

FAT NICKEL

The Steelers' four-man defensive line was used on passing downs Sunday against the Cleveland Browns and fared so well the Steelers didn't have to use the one-man line they'd worked on throughout camp.

Called "the fat nickel" by defensive backs and linebackers, defensive line coach John Mitchell corrected them by calling it "the big nickel." It features Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel as ends and Chris Hoke and Hampton as tackles.

"I like it," said Hampton. "I like to rush. It's hard to rush when you're in the middle. You have no angle, so it's nice to get on the edge with somebody and try to rush him from a different angle."

Of course, it worked for Smith, who recorded a sack the first time it was used. Hoke also received credit for half a sack that initially had been credited to James Harrison.

"I should get the full sack," said Hoke. "If you watch closely, the whistle blew before James hit him."

Hoke now has 2.5 career sacks in regular-season play. He also had a sack in the 2005 playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals.

HAMPTON RESTRUCTURED CONTRACT

The Steelers cleared $1.67 million in cap space last week by turning $2.5 million of Hampton's 2007 salary into bonus money.

Hampton has now collected $9.7 million in signing, roster and option bonuses over the last three years, or just over half of what his former college teammate, Bills left guard Derrick Dockery, cleared when he signed a $49 million free-agent contract with an $18 million bonus.

"D Dock is a good player," Hampton said. "I always knew he could play, even at Texas. He was a little bit younger than me, but he's athletic. He can get it done. He definitely deserves what he got."

Dockery drove up the guard market this past off-season and is partly responsible for the negotiating impasse the Steelers have reached with Alan Faneca.

"He was a third-round pick," Hampton said. "He could've been a first-round pick but he got that tag that he was lazy in college. He was misunderstood. There was never any question he was a good player. I knew he was a good player."

NEW GUNNERS

William Gay and Lawrence Timmons were the Steelers' gunners on the punt team for all but one punt Sunday. Nate Washington stepped in and stopped a punt at the 2-yard line.

"They wanted me to go when we go Sky Punt, because normally they go One Vise out there, meaning one guy covering the gunner," Washington said. "The coaches knew they weren't going to be able to cover me one-on-one, so they wanted me to get down there."

As for Timmons, Coach Mike Tomlin talked excitedly after the game about the prospect of using the 238-pound gunner all season. Gay, meanwhile, was a surprise activation over veteran Ricardo Colclough.

"I didn't know you had to dress 45. I thought all 53 played," said Gay. "So once I got that reality, I said, aw, it's training camp all over again, just trying to fight for a spot. So when they told me I would dress, I was happy because it was my first game out there. I was a little nervous at first but I got over that real quick."

Gay was also the R-2 man on the kickoff team and the back-up hold-up man on the punt-return team. He was also the Steelers' nickel back in the secondary.

"I showed my rookie troubles out there a couple times, but overall I think I did pretty good," said Gay, the fifth-round pick out of Louisville. "After that game, I want this next game to be perfect. I know you can't be perfect, but I want it to be as perfect as possible, like I'm a vet out there."

IKE'S FIRST SACK

Ike Taylor recorded his first career sack against the Browns, and the fifth-year veteran was as surprised as anybody that it was his first.

"When we played Chicago at home, when it was snowing, I thought for sure I had a sack, but I guess I didn't," said Taylor, who also had an interception in the game.

"I should've had at least one or two more," he said. "There were a couple of plays I should've had. That's all a part of getting better though."

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