Foote finds a home again with Steelers
Larry Foote isn't oblivious to his surroundings and is far from being immune from the talk.
He knows what is being said about him since the Steelers released the captain and anchor of their defense, James Farrior, in March.
“I told (Steelers coach) Mike Tomlin the other day that I am having a little itchy ear hearing about the big question mark I have on me,” Foote said. “I have been a question mark since I've been a little kid, with my background and where I grew up, so it's nothing new.”
But replacing a friend, a mentor and one of the best linebackers in team history is.
Foote will be one of three new starters on defense when the season opens in three months, but he most certainly will have the biggest shoes to fill.
“We expect Larry to play and to play well,” Tomlin said.
Under Farrior's leadership from 2002-11, the Steelers finished first in total defense four times and in the top five eight times while winning a pair of Super Bowls.
“You lose a guy like James Farrior, which you're never going to replace because of all the intangibles he brings to the table. That's just impossible to replace all of that,” linebackers coach Keith Butler said.
But if there is one who can come close, it's Foote.
“I can hold my own,” he said. “I've taken the huddle of this team before in my 10 years. I know the defense. I can play.”
Foote played alongside Farrior for five years and 80 consecutive games from 2004-08 before leaving for his hometown Detroit Lions for one season in 2009.
While he mostly backed up Farrior during his first season back with the Steelers in 2010, Foote took over a larger role by replacing Farrior for multiple series at a time.
Foote played 40 percent (411 plays) of the Steelers' defensive snaps last season. Farrior played 73 percent of the snaps. In the two games Farrior was out because of an injury (Baltimore and New England), Foote logged 70 and 57 snaps, respectively.
“Larry Foote knows this defense in and out,” Butler said. “He's been in this defense for 10 years. If anybody knows this defense, it's Larry Foote. Larry Foote is a very capable starter for us, and there won't be much drop-off by having him in there.”
When the Steelers invested a first-round pick on Lawrence Timmons in 2007, Foote knew he wasn't going to be in the team's long-term plans, so he signed a one-year deal with the Lions when his contract expired.
Although Foote started 14 games and had his second-best tackling season of his career, the Lions went 2-14.
In the non-salary cap year of 2010, the Steelers lured Foote back in a reserve role. He agreed to return but only after he was assured he wasn't being signed to replace Farrior.
Two years later, Foote is OK with taking over for his mentor.
“He is 37 years old and played 15 years in this league,” Foote said. “We knew this day was going to come.”
Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers offensive linemen looking to build on strong 2013 finish
- Inside the ropes: Shazier shows off speed
- Steelers hoping that youth movement breathes life into team
- Steelers notebook: Team hasn’t called on Keisel, Harrison yet
- Steelers linebacker Spence confident he can avoid injury setbacks
- Inside the ropes: Roethlisberger may have his big receiver
- Steelers hope group of low-budget cornerbacks can deliver
- GM Colbert expects Roethlisberger to end career with Steelers
- Steelers notebook: Ben believes rookie WR Bryant can contribute
- Steelers WR Wheaton wants to produce after injury-plagued rookie year
- Roethlisberger ‘prays’ he can stay with Steelers when deal expires