View Full Version : Steelers LB Foote takes first steps as leader

Hawaii 5-0
05-26-2012, 02:40 PM
Steelers LB Foote takes first steps as leader

May 26, 2012
By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Larry Foote has found himself to be an elder statesman heading into 2012.

When the Steelers won Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season, Larry Foote, at 25, was the second-youngest starter on a veteran-laden defense. Only Troy Polamalu was younger.

As the Steelers approach the 2012 season, Foote finds himself in a much different role as one of the elder statesmen on a defense that has become younger after the departure of veterans such as Aaron Smith and James Farrior.

Foote, who will turn 32 next month, is charged with the tall task of replacing Farrior, his friend and mentor who started alongside him in the middle of the Steelers defense from 2004-09.

"When you're trying to replace a James Farrior and what he did for this defense the last decade ... those are big shoes to fill," Foote said during the first week of organized team activities at the team's South Side facility.

"Mainly, my game will take care of itself. I'll get guys lined up, being that rock for the defense, keeping them composed. Some of those special things Farrior brought to the table ... I'm going to try to emulate those intangibles the best I can."

That includes being one of the team's leading voices on the field and in the locker room. Farrior was the defensive captain and a player everyone on the team looked to for leadership. Look around the locker room now and there are plenty of veterans, but few are poised to take on the vocal role that has been a constant on this team dating to the days of Joey Porter.

Foote, a fourth-round draft choice from Michigan in 2002, wants to be that guy. He said it his job to pass on everything he has learned in the league to the younger players because he values what he was taught by Steelers veterans when he first came into the league.

"Day in day out, I'm just passing the torch," Foote said. "The Joey Porters, the Jason Gildons showed me when I got here you have to be a leader, you have to come to play. You have to talk and bring up the young guys. That's part of your job, pass it down."

Polamalu is not a vocal leader, but he is, in many ways, the heartbeat of the defense by virtue of the way he plays. He said the vocal leadership void left by Farrior will be hard to duplicate just as it was when Porter left after the '06 season.

"You hate to put that kind of load on Larry," Polamalu said. "You can't say that even James Farrior was going to be exactly the same kind of leader Joey was. And he wasn't. I'm sure Larry can be a leader on this defense, but he won't be the exact leader that James Farrior was, for sure."

Anytime there is a transition in leadership within a team, there are players to be won over. Foote said he has the veterans' respect, but he said he must prove himself to some of the younger defensive players.

The Steelers have several young players stepping into starting positions this season. Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward will vie to take over for Smith at defensive end. Keenan Lewis is looking to earn a job at cornerback after William Gay's departure.

"A lot of new guys, I have to earn their respect," Foote said. "Some of the guys who have been here a long time, they know what I can bring to the table. Some of the other guys, the Ziggy Hoods and Cam Heywards, I have to show them what time it is."

Foote has been a Steeler for 10 of his 11 NFL seasons. When it was evident first-round pick Lawrence Timmons was destined to replace him after '08, he signed with his hometown Detroit Lions as a free agent. He had a productive season as a starter for the Lions in '09, but, when the opportunity arose to return to the Steelers in '10, he jumped at it.

Foote spent the past two Steelers seasons as a reserve, but played well when he was asked to step in. Now, he is trying to prove he still has what it takes to be a full-time NFL starter. He will face some competition from third-year pro Stevenson Sylvester in training camp, but there is a reason defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau inserted Foote as Farrior's replacement in the OTAs.

When Timmons moved to the outside after James Harrison was injured in the middle of last season, Foote started five games and played well. He finished with 47 tackles on a unit that finished first in the league in total defense.

The expectations for the defense won't change this season, and Foote said it's nice to be counted on again in a larger role.

"Anytime this organization wants you to play for them and take the huddle, especially with this legendary defense, it's special," he said. "I have a great deal of confidence. A lot is expected. A lot will be given and a lot will be required. I'm just excited."


tony hipchest
05-26-2012, 03:22 PM
i know plenty of people cant stand foote, but i beleive the roll he has with this team in transition this year will be invaluable.

05-26-2012, 04:02 PM
i know plenty of people cant stand foote, but i beleive the roll he has with this team in transition this year will be invaluable.

I think you are right...He may not be an all pro but his experience and leadership means alot!

Hawaii 5-0
05-29-2012, 07:35 PM
Woodley knows familiar faces will step up

May 29, 2012
Teresa Varley - Steelers.com

The Steelers defense might have gone through some changes this offseason with the departure of James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke, but at the same time there are some familiar faces who are taking over their roles.

“Different guys at new positions have to step up,” said LaMarr Woodley. “We have starting guys stepping up for people that left. Ziggy Hood started when Aaron Smith went down. Larry Foote is a starter who has been in there for years on defense. I don’t think we lost too much as far as experience with the guys who have been playing.”

Foote won’t only be asked to take over the starting inside linebacker spot that Farrior had, but he also is stepping in as the defensive play-caller.

“That’s all we need him to do, call the plays and he can go out there and play the way he can play,” said Woodley. “Don’t expect anything different out of Foote. He is now the play caller and has to get this defense lined up.”

Foote spent the first week of OTAs adjusting to his new role of defensive play-caller, a role he welcomes despite the added responsibility.

“Coach (Keith) Butler put that responsibility on me and I have to get those guys right,” said Foote. “It can be draining a little bit. This defense is complex but we need those guys if we are going to win. I have a little coach in me. It’s fun.”

Foote started five games at inside linebacker in 2011 and is using OTAs as the first step to prepare for the season.

“We are just sharpening our sword and getting ready for training camp,” said Foote. “The more repetitions, the better you are going to be, whether you have been in the league two years or 15 years. The more you get out here the better and sharper you are going to be.”

* * *

Another player who will be called upon for a different role this year is wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery, who is entering his ninth season, is the veteran among the group and while leadership will be a key for him, producing on the field is what he has his sights set on.

“I am working to get my role established here,” said Cotchery. “I feel like I can help the team. I am growing in the offense and with the program to help this team win games. I am the veteran of the group. I have seen a lot of things in this league. I have seen it all take place. I am a guy someone can come to and ask questions. I am here for the young guys to help them in whatever area they need.

“My main role is to get established so I can get on the field and help the team win. I want to win a Super Bowl and we know what kind of work it takes to get that accomplished and everyone is working towards that.”

Cotchery said he will do whatever is asked of him, playing either the slot or outside as he prides himself on knowing all of the positions and continues to work on that during OTAs.

“That is what this time is about, learning the system, getting comfortable within the system, and showing those things in training camp and being ready to hit it when the season comes,” said Cotchery. “I can play every position. In that regard I want the coaching staff to be comfortable if any guy goes down, I can fill in anywhere. That is how I have always done it, learn every position on the field and go from there. “

* * *

Defensive end Cameron Heyward didn’t have the luxury of taking part in OTAs last year because of the NFL lockout and is taking full advantage of the extra time this offseason.

“I hope it helps a lot,” said Heyward. “It’s a time for us to really take in the playbook, get comfortable in our stance and technique and just a chance to improve. I think we got thrown into the fire last year, but we were dealt the cards that way. I just need to go out there and improve.”


05-30-2012, 01:52 PM
I have always liked Foote... He will be just fine!

Fire Arians
05-30-2012, 01:57 PM
i know plenty of people cant stand foote, but i beleive the roll he has with this team in transition this year will be invaluable.

foote played better than farrior last season imo. he isn't a big time playmaker but he's reliable, i have no problems with foote.

05-30-2012, 02:15 PM
I have always liked Foote... He will be just fine!

Same here. I've always liked Foote.Love his signature move when he makes a good/great play. Stomp the ground - "Laying the Foote Down" . Perfect for his name.

tony hipchest
05-30-2012, 02:35 PM
“Coach (Keith) Butler put that responsibility on me and I have to get those guys right,” said Foote. “It can be draining a little bit. This defense is complex but we need those guys if we are going to win. I have a little coach in me. It’s fun.”

im glad foote isnt frustrated with higher expectations and added duties and studies. you cant spell frustration without F-U-N.

05-31-2012, 01:20 PM
Foote gets hated on alot among Steelers fans, and I have never understood why.

He is easily our best run-stuffing ILB. I guess the whole Timmons takng over thing a few years ago kinda hurt his image among the faithful.

05-31-2012, 02:22 PM
The first thing Foote can do as a leader is to demand to be benched or cut.