Larry Foote was handed a bag of metaphorical ‘lemons’ near the end of Pittsburgh’s opening day loss to the Tennessee Titans last September. The biceps injury Foote sustained that afternoon forced him to miss the final 15 games the 2013 regular season.
To the veteran inside linebacker’s credit, he took those ‘lemons’ and ‘made lemonade’ with his leadership and overall help last fall according to his rookie replacement Vince Williams.
In fact, the former Florida State Seminole said the following about Foote in a recent article by Teresa Varley of Steelers.com:
He was always there if I needed him. He wasn’t on my back or anything like that. But whenever I had a question he was always the first one to be able to answer it. Larry was always there to provide clarity. Larry provides the immediate perception. Larry was there to clear up some foggy windows sometimes.
Stepping into Dick LeBeau’s defensive system is a challenge for any player, let alone a rookie. Thus, I am sure that Foote’s knowledge and overall availability were enormously helpful to a rookie like Williams who was tasked with starting at one of the most important positions in LeBeau’s defensive scheme as early as he did.
Although Williams struggled at times during his rookie campaign (53 tackles and 4.0 tackles for loss), the marked improvement he illustrated down the stretch was an enormous positive for the franchise. Despite the strides he made during his first season, Williams will have to win the starting job over the same person who helped him along last fall during the coming months unless the veteran is released for cap-related purposes.
How much Williams will inevitably contribute on the defensive side of the ball this fall is certainly up for debate. However, the fact that he gained experience from one of the league’s most experienced and knowledgeable linebackers during his 15 games in 2013 is a huge positive for him as he enters his second professional season.
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