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08-25-2010, 01:41 AM
Foote soldiers on

By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... rs-on.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2010/august/24/foote-soldiers-on.html)

Tuesday August 24, 2010 11:08 PM

AP file photo Steelers outside linebacker Larry Foote signals during training camp.

Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler summed up the reasoning for bringing Larry Foote back to Pittsburgh.

“Insurance,” Butler said.

Foote, who started every game at inside linebacker for the Steelers from 2004-2008, left Pittsburgh last year when it became apparent that it was time to start Lawrence Timmons. After all, Timmons was a first-round draft pick in ’07.

But after one season as a starter with the hapless Detroit Lions, Foote wanted to play again for a winner. During the off-season, he visited the Arizona Cardinals, whose coaching staff and roster are filled with ex-Steelers.

Ultimately, Foote returned to Pittsburgh.

Considering he’s going to be a back-up, Foote got a terrific deal — $9.3 million over three years including a $1.8 million signing bonus. His base salary this year is $3.3 million. That’s significantly more than the $550,000 Timmons will make.

“I’m just trying to get in there … fight, scratch and claw for playing time,” said Foote, 30. “I’m willing and able. But talk isn’t going to do it. I got to do it out on the field.”

But unless Timmons or James Farrior, the other inside linebacker, misses any time, Foote will play primarily on special teams.

Timmons, 24, has had an excellent preseason and looks like he’s ready to blossom into the star the Steelers thought he’d be when they drafted him.
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At 35, Farrior is the oldest starter but is determined to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2004 and ’08.

“Right now, I’m a back-up,” Foote said. “But the coaches told me I’m going to play. So I’m just trying to put my cards on the table and see what happens.”

Last year when Foote returned to his native Detroit, he started 14 games at middle linebacker for the Lions in their 4-3 defense. For the most part, Foote played well. But he was miserable playing for a 2-14 team had the NFL’s second-worst record (the St. Louis Rams went 1-15).

In his seven years in Pittsburgh, Foote played on only one losing team (2003 when the Steelers finished 6-10).

“I learned my lesson,” Foote said. “It’s all about enjoying yourself and having fun and having a chance to win week in and week out. I’m glad I’m back. You never know what you’re going to miss until you’re gone.”

The Steelers are glad to have Foote back — even if he is an expensive insurance policy.

One of the league’s best trash talkers, he’s a well-respected teammate who adds to team chemistry. He’s a chatterbox who livens up the practice field and locker room.

“It’s great to have that loud mouth back,” Farrior said.