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Steelers' Foote says subpar 2012 frustrating

| Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Larry Foote (left) looks on during OTAs on Tuesday, June 4, 2013, on the South Side.

Larry Foote says there's no fear of the unknown with the Steelers.

Or of doing things that may go against the perceived, stay-the-course Steelers way, which he says they're doing — partly at co-owner Art Rooney II's behest — following their 8-8 season.

For years a well-known entity with identifiable players such as Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, James Harrison and Mike Wallace, the Steelers are “going through a bit of a transition period,” Foote said Tuesday.

After James Farrior, Hines Ward and Aaron Smith departed last season, veterans including Harrison, Wallace, Keenan Lewis and Rashard Mendenhall moved on this year. It has altered the look of the team, in Foote's estimation.

“We lost some guys this year and last year, so it's unknown guys who need to step up if we're going to go far,” said Foote, the inside linebacker who signed a new contract that will bring him back for an 11th Steelers season. “There are some unknown guys who have to step up and play big time for us.”

He was referring to players such as outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who isn't exactly an unknown quantity but is one who has yet to show what he can do as an every-week starter. Others include Cortez Allen, who replaces Lewis at cornerback, backup cornerback Curtis Brown and nose tackle Steve McLendon.

Foote appears to believe that Worilds, not first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones, will replace Harrison at outside linebacker.

“It's going to be difficult (for Jones to start immediately), especially outside,” Foote said. “There is so much technique, (knowing) where you've got to line up, inside or outside. The fortunate thing is they (Jones' Georgia Bulldogs) played a 3-4. ... I've seen a lot (of players) come in as rookies and not have a clue, but you can tell he's been around our type of football.”

Even if that wasn't the type of football the Steelers played during a playoffs-free 2012 season. Foote said there's a lingering irritation and anger — especially in his household, where he said a budgeted $40,000 or so in playoff money evaporated.

Rooney expressed disappointment with all the close losses — five by three points — and the large number of injuries. He said the team would explore different methods of conditioning.

“Everybody, Mr. Rooney on down, everybody is (mad),” Foote said. “Conditioning has gone up a notch. Everybody has to do a stress test. We're trying to get after it.”

Wallace alluded to the Steelers' all-business attitude when he recently told reporters in Miami that “everybody has a college mentality around here. It's a lot different than where I came from. Everybody's hungry.”

“This organization knows how to do it, and we're one of the top teams the past decade,” Foote said. “I don't know where's he's coming from, and I don't take it too seriously, but we're a top program. Everybody knows that.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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