Coming into the 2012 season, anytime the name Larry Foote was mentioned, it was typically followed by the ‘replacement for James Farrior the all-pro linebacker who has now retired.’ I don’t know about you, but I think I would get tired of this after awhile and that’s no knock on Potsie who had an outstanding career in the black ‘n gold, but time marches on and this is now Foote’s position.
If ever a guy was taking ownership of a spot long-held by a fan favorite it’s Foote who through two games leads the team in tackles with 16, has a sack and has forced a fumble. No one will ever confuse the man from the University of Michigan with Jack Lambert or Jack Ham or Greg Lloyd but he has gotten every ounce out of his 11-year career that many probably thought he would never have.
Foote is more than having a good year statistically to this point, he is also the guy in charge of setting the defense and making sure the front seven are where they need to be. In Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 defense, that is no easy task and Foote has done a great job of getting people from the veterans to the rookies to the right spots. LeBeau trusts his veterans and it’s clear he has a lot of faith in Foote.
With two Super Bowl rings in his possession, Foote decided it was time to return home as a free agent and play with the Detroit Lions who seemed to have things in order following the departure of Matt Millen as the general manager. Foote started and played in 14 games for the Lions and totaled 99 tackles but it was clear that while he may have been ‘home,’ it certainly wasn’t Pittsburgh.
Knowing he may not be playing on much more than special teams, Foote came back to the Steel City in 2010. Over that season and 2011, he played in 31 games and started just five at inside backer. Just as it looked like the former Detroit Pershing High School Doughboy was thought to be finished, the opportunity to once again start and lead the defense arose and Foote has taken hold of it with both hands.
He may not be the type of leader James Farrior was but it’s clear from the first two games that he has command and control of this defense. We can certainly make assumptions about whether he would be on the field as often as he has had rookie Sean Spence not been lost to a season-ending injury or if reserve backer Sly Sylvester hadn’t been banged up. Nothing you can do about those situations and Foote really doesn’t care either. You can see the passion and enthusiasm he has for the game on every play.
While the defense continues to work out the kinks with James Harrison and Troy Polamalu out, Foote is the steady, consumate professional who leads the defense and is all over the field making plays in the process. Foote will never garner the attention of some of the current and past Steelers but his contributions especially so far this year have been outstanding.