It happens all the time — two teams meet, and ex-teammates on each side end up with some good-natured smack talk before the game. It just doesn’t usually happen in the middle of the locker room. But there was Cardinals’ reserve defensive lineman Nick Eason Wednesday, about to do an interview, when his phone rang. The caller ID said it was Chris Hoke — a defensive lineman from the Steelers. Instead of letting it go to voice mail, Eason picked up.
“Don’t call me now, I’m about to do an interview about we’re gonna beat y’all,” Eason said, smile growing on his face. Then he punched speaker to let everyone in on the brief conversation.
“Is Casey playing?” Eason asked, knowing that Steelers starting nose tackle Casey Hampton has been banged up with a bad shoulder. “Don’t worry about that,” Hoke said.
(A quick side note: Eason, along with fellow long-time D-line vet Vonnie Holliday, have fit perfectly into their roles. Would each like to play more? Yes. But both have embraced their jobs as wise sages in the locker room, there to mainly support guys like Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams and David Carter.)
“Is Casey playing? Why can’t you tell me? We aren’t friends?” Eason repeated through his grin, only to get the same, “Don’t worry about that” answer from Hoke. “So we’re enemies now,” Eason said. “I thought we were boys. That’s how you’re gonna act.”
It was Hoke’s turn to dig, noting that “Ramon” — Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster — told Hoke he was going to “pancake” Eason. That drew another grin from Eason. “You tell Ramon he ain’t gonna be able to move me,” the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Eason said. “He never has, and he’s not going to start now.”
There are only three ex-Steelers playing for the Cards right now: Eason and linebackers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans (cornerback Crezdon Butler is on IR). For all the ties to Pittsburgh — and there are still plenty on the coaching staff — the Cards have looked to downplay that aspect of the game this week. Eason is no exception, save for his jabs to Hoke.
“I’m not jacked up,” Eason said. “Obviously, it’s a dominant opponent. Pittsburgh is a dominate team. You’ve got to give it to them. But right now we are 1-4. I just want a win here. I don’t care if it was whomever, it’s the next game. And we need a win.”
Tags: Nick Eason, Steelers, Vonnie Holliday
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