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|01-10-2011, 06:07 AM||#1|
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Two-time Steelers adjust to new roles
Two-time Steelers adjust to new roles
By Scott Brown
Monday, January 10, 2011
Larry Foote didn't envision serving as a consultant more than a running mate to James Farrior.
Antwaan Randle El, meanwhile, didn't expect to catch the fewest passes of his career and having his role diminished by the emergence of a couple of rookies.
But days such as Sunday are the reason why two members of the Steelers' 2002 draft class returned to the team last March.
The Steelers held a short practice at their South Side headquarters as they prepare for a divisional playoff game Saturday against the visiting Baltimore Ravens. They stand just two wins away from a trip to the Super Bowl, and only need three to capture a seventh Lombardi Trophy.
Winning has been the trade-off for the reduced roles that Foote and Randle El have accepted in their second tours of duty with the Steelers.
Not that it has been easy, particularly for Foote.
The inside linebacker had started every game he had played since 2004 (94 total) prior to this season. After enduring a 2-14 season with the Detroit Lions, Foote has found that adjusting to a reserve role can be just as difficult.
"It's rough from a competitive standpoint, especially on game day when you feel that electricity and stuff like that," Foote said. "There's a part of me that will always say, 'I'd rather be on an 0-16 team and be playing instead of watching.' But as the season has gone on and the games have been getting bigger and bigger, I'm just all into winning."
Prior to signing a three-year, $9.3 million with the Steelers, Foote sought and received assurances that his return wouldn't mean the end of Farrior's career in Pittsburgh.
Farrior, ironically, has played so well that he has kept Foote on the sidelines for much of the season.
Foote, like Randle El, has provided veteran leadership and been a positive influence in the locker room. Foote has also played a vital role in serving as what Farrior calls his "eyes."
"He lets me know what he sees out there and what I need to be looking at," Farrior said of the player that started alongside him from 2004-08. "He was my right-hand man for so long, so I definitely trust everything he tells me."
Emmanuel Sanders apparently feels the same about Randle El.
The latter has served as a mentor for the Steelers' young wideouts, even though it has come at his expense as Sanders and fellow rookie Antonio Brown have developed.
"He's helped guide us through the season," Sanders said. "He's constantly telling me to take care of my body because if you don't take care of it, it won't take care of you. El's a good dude. I respect him whether it's football or just life situations."
Randle El has provided some highlight-reel material, including a spectacular one-handed catch against the Bengals. But the nine-year veteran hasn't been as big a part of the offense that he and the Steelers had expected after Randle El signed a three-year, $7 million contract last March.
Randle El finished seventh on the team in receptions (22) -- he averaged just over 50 catches a season his last three years with the Redskins -- and clearly lost his grip on the role of No. 3 wide receiver as Sanders progressed.
"No question, it's tough. I've just got to be in submission, if you will. When it comes to (Sanders and Brown) making plays, rewarding them, congratulating them, because I'm not going to try to put another guy down anyway and we're a team," Randle El said. "If you get wrapped up in what you feel like you should be doing, you mess up the opportunity when it comes your way."
Scott Brown can be reached at email@example.com or 412-481-5432.
|01-10-2011, 11:32 AM||#2|
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