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fordfixer
01-23-2009, 03:59 AM
Ron Cook
Making splash his own way
Friday, January 23, 2009
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09023/943927-87.stm

If you're ranking players in terms of importance to the Steelers' stout defense, you start with linebacker James Harrison or safety Troy Polamalu and work your way down. Someone has to be No. 11 among the starters.

Larry Foote?

Hey, that's OK with him if that's the public perception, erroneous as it might be. Being No. 11 on the NFL's best defense, which is getting ready to show its stuff against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, isn't such a bad thing.

"I know I'm not one of the marquee guys," Foote said. "But it's like [former Michigan coach] Lloyd Carr used to say: 'When you win, there's plenty of success and glory to go around.'

"It's like [linebacker] Teddy Bruschi in New England. Everybody knows who he is because New England wins. Everybody becomes a household name when you win Super Bowls. It's like that here. Everybody knows the Steelers. They even know me. I know I'm very fortunate to be a part of this team.

"At the same time, though, I can hold my own."

Don't underestimate that last point.

Foote was huge in the run defense that contributed so much to the Steelers' success this season. He played such a big part that he was able to fight off Lawrence Timmons -- the team's No. 1 draft choice in 2007 -- and hold on to his starting inside linebacker job. "And Timmons is having a great year, too," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said.

That's why it's an injustice to Foote to think of him as No. 11 of 11. On my list, he's tied for fourth with all the others after Harrison, Polamalu and linebacker James Farrior, who made the Pro Bowl.

"He's just so smart," LeBeau said of Foote.

We're talking football instincts.

Foote's cup runneth over.

"It makes up for a lack of size and speed," he said. "I'm plenty quick enough, but you probably think I'm quicker than I am because I'm moving before the other guys. It's just having a feeling for what the offense is going to do."

That's the edge Foote still has on Timmons, who looks as if he's going to be a terrific player. This is Timmons' second season. He has come a long way in a hurry, but he's still a baby, still learning the many intricacies of LeBeau's complicated schemes.

Maybe next year …

Then again, the way Foote is playing, maybe not.

"This game is 85 percent mental and 15 percent physical," Foote said. "When you get to this level, everyone can run and hit. But late in the fourth quarter, do you want a blown assignment? I don't think so."

Foote's dependability is invaluable. But he provides so much more. He has started every game the past five seasons, a streak that has reached 89 games, counting the postseason. No other Steelers defensive player comes close to that number.

Maybe the fact that Foote always is there for his teammates contributes to him being taken for granted. Certainly, the nature of his position is a factor in his relative anonymity. He is paid to stick his nose into the likes of running backs Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee and Darren Sproles, not make splash plays.

"Hopefully, I'll get me one of those Troy Polamalu plays and score a touchdown," Foote said, fairly giggling.

Maybe you shouldn't be shocked if it happens in the Super Bowl.

Foote has just three regular-season interceptions in seven years, but he has two in his past five postseason games, including one against the San Diego Chargers a few weeks ago.

You might remember Foote provided one of the more comical moments during the Steelers' run to Super Bowl XL after the '05 season when he picked off a Jake Plummer pass against Denver in the AFC championship game and ducked to the ground rather than risk a fumble. Moments later, NFL Films captured him on the sideline telling teammates, "I get nervous when I have the ball. Why do I get so nervous when I have the ball? I've gotta work on that."

Said Foote this week:

"Ah, c'mon, I was just clowning around. I returned that interception 15 yards. That's when my left foot gave out, and I slipped …

"That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

"It's hard for one of us to score a touchdown anyway because, as soon as you catch the ball, there are five DBs in your ear, screaming, 'Pitch it! Pitch it! Pitch it!' " he said. "Nobody blocks for us. It's not like when Troy intercepts one. Everyone figures he's going to score, so they block."

Not that Foote is greedy.

"I'll be happy with an interception -- period -- in the Super Bowl."

Actually, Foote will be thrilled if the Steelers get to hoist the Lombardi Trophy again even if he does nothing special in the game.

When you win, there's plenty of success and glory to go around …

"Two Super Bowls separate you from the pack a little," Foote said. "Two puts you in a different category."

Foote couldn't help himself; he had to remind a couple of former teammates of just that Sunday in the warm afterglow of the Steelers' win against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game. Jerome Bettis, who retired after Super Bowl XL, was in the locker room, working for NBC Sports. Antwaan Randle El also was there, working for the NFL Network. He played on that '05 team before leaving as a free agent for the Washington Redskins.

"I was clowning around, rubbing it in to 'em," Foote said. "I told 'em I'm going after No. 2. They'd love to have that chance. Getting two is special."

For everybody.

From the best guy on the defense to No. 11.

flippy
01-23-2009, 01:58 PM
"It's hard for one of us to score a touchdown anyway because, as soon as you catch the ball, there are five DBs in your ear, screaming, 'Pitch it! Pitch it! Pitch it!' " he said. "Nobody blocks for us. It's not like when Troy intercepts one. Everyone figures he's going to score, so they block."


That's pretty funny.

Maybe the DBs should watch why Steelers fans love Hines Ward.

feltdizz
01-23-2009, 03:24 PM
That's the edge Foote still has on Timmons, who looks as if he's going to be a terrific player. This is Timmons' second season. He has come a long way in a hurry, but he's still a baby, still learning the many intricacies of LeBeau's complicated schemes.

Maybe next year …

Then again, the way Foote is playing, maybe not.

"This game is 85 percent mental and 15 percent physical," Foote said. "When you get to this level, everyone can run and hit. But late in the fourth quarter, do you want a blown assignment? I don't think so."


Plenty of people said Timmons was a bust cause he couldn't beat out Foote but I think Foote said it best... do you want a rookie making a mistake in the 4th qtr? What is the rush anyway.. this is what separates us from other teams. We don't throw rook's into the fire if we don't have to...

Timmons is a beast but Foote is stout against the run.

ramblinjim
01-23-2009, 05:01 PM
I don't think should doubt what Foote has been to this team. He's been great for us.

DukieBoy
01-23-2009, 07:10 PM
That's the edge Foote still has on Timmons, who looks as if he's going to be a terrific player. This is Timmons' second season. He has come a long way in a hurry, but he's still a baby, still learning the many intricacies of LeBeau's complicated schemes.

Maybe next year …

Then again, the way Foote is playing, maybe not.

"This game is 85 percent mental and 15 percent physical," Foote said. "When you get to this level, everyone can run and hit. But late in the fourth quarter, do you want a blown assignment? I don't think so."


Plenty of people said Timmons was a bust cause he couldn't beat out Foote but I think Foote said it best... do you want a rookie making a mistake in the 4th qtr? What is the rush anyway.. this is what separates us from other teams. We don't throw rook's into the fire if we don't have to...

Timmons is a beast but Foote is stout against the run.

Timmons' birthday is 5/14/86. He is only 22 1/2 years old and now has 2 years of NFL experience. How amazing will he be in his prime years?