Don\’t Overlook The Value Of Ramon Foster In Steelers Line Revamp

By Cian Fahey

Entering last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff was reluctant to let Ramon Foster remain in the lineup from the previous season. After a training camp battle that began with Chris Scott and Tony Hills, backup center Doug Legursky started the season in Foster\’s right guard position.

Much like the previous occasions Foster got on the field, another injury gave him the opportunity to play when he took over for Chris Kemoeatu at left guard in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. Foster still found his way back to the bench until Legursky got injured the next week against the Indianapolis Colts.

This gave Foster another opportunity to start at right guard. An opportunity he seized for the remainder of the season.

Passed the team\’s two tackles, Max Starks and Marcus Gilbert, Foster was the best of the team\’s offensive linemen last year. There was a revolving door at the other left guard position with a combination of Trai Essex, Kemoeatu and Legurksy all featuring while Maurkice Pouncey failed to repeat his performances of his rookie year at center.

Foster isn\’t really an impact guard. For that reason you won\’t see analysts from outside of Pittsburgh overly praise him the way they did Kemoeatu for highlight trap plays, however you also won\’t see him make as many mistakes as other players.

Foster is one of the more consistent offensive linemen the Steelers have had in recent years. Entering his fourth season, he has started 26 games and featured in 41 since breaking into the team as a rookie. After going undrafted in 2009 he never received the hype that other rookies who do as much as he did during his rookie season.

In fact, throughout Foster\’s career, because he doesn\’t appear to have superstar potential, nobody has ever really given him the credit he deserves.

Championship teams are not built with 53 superstars. Generally a team is lucky to have five superstars and another 10 players with all-pro potential. The rest of the roster needs to be filled out with reliable role players who can consistently complement the stars.

Entering this year, Foster won\’t get much attention because Steelers fans will be desperate to see David DeCastro and Mike Adams in camp. While DeCastro is set to start as a rookie, Adams will likely be a backup tackle. Right now, Foster is set to be one of the two starting guards. With Willie Colon returning, Gilbert moving to left tackle, Pouncey being fully healthy and DeCastro at right guard, Foster will be the most underwhelming aspect of the Steelers\’ offensive line.

While he is underwhelming, he is still very valuable

An offensive line is only as strong as its weakest link. Just ask the New York Jets about Wayne Hunter playing right tackle last year as he handicapped their offensive line. From a talent perspective, Foster likely is the weakest link on the line if he starts this year but you can be certain that he will be one of the most, if not the most, consistent player upfront.

Foster is versatile also. With him on the roster, the Steelers will be allowed to not only put DeCastro at whichever guard spot best suits him, but they also have a former college tackle on their hands. If the team decides to bring back someone like Starks and move Foster out of the starting lineup—the knock on effect of Starks puts Colon at guard—then he would be able to replace Essex as the sixth lineman covering both guard positions and possibly right tackle.

Excitement may be brewing because of the Steelers\’ heavy investment in new offensive line talent over the past few years. Foster may not be a former first or second round pick, in fact he went undrafted, but that shouldn\’t prevent him from being an important piece for the line moving forward.

You can follow Cian on Twitter at @Cianaf

  • “all featuring this while Maurkice Pouncey failed to repeat his performances of his rookie year at center”

    Really? so why then was he voted first team all pro ?

    Other then that comment I think you’re correct about Foster. He might not be spectacular but he is steady. I like him and he’ll be a valuable backup/starter in 2012.

  • Josh

    I hope we re-sign Max so the 2012 o-line looks like this. Starks-Colon-Pouncey-De’Castro-Gilbert. I think Foster is a great backup. 2013 o-line Gilbert-Colon-Pouncey-De’Castro-Adams

  • Because reputations often outweigh actual performance when it comes to offensive linemen even with the all-pro selections.

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    Yes he did, but also keep in mind that Kemoautu was considered a backup for the ProBowl roster, Yeah!?!? He didn’t even start for us! Maurkice didn’t have a bad year if you compare him to say Justin Hartwig, but he did get by on reputation just a bit last year. (My opinion)

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    I was very glad to see Foster get some deserved love. The other day they were showing the replay of the Steeler and Bengals game from this last season on Nfl Network and I made a point to watch our o-line especially Foster and Gilbert. I came away worried about Gilbert moving to the left side and so impressed with Fosters performance. He is not flashy because he isn’t great on the move like you noted in your article but he is a solid inline blocker. I’m looking forward to the camp battles along the offensive line this year and in a year I see our o-line from left to right being Adams, Decastro, Pouncey, FOSTER, and Gilbert. I know everyone think Colon will kick in to guard, but I don’t see it. I see him getting cut after this year although I don’t really know about the implications that would have on our cap

  • Harold

    I guess I must be seeing something different when it comes to Foster. I realize OL evaluations can be very subjective but I don’t remember Foster ever blowing anybody off the line in the run game. I don’t ever remember him moving anybody backwards. As far as his pass protection goes, there are times when he is average (I guess) but there are also times when he flat out whiffs (like when Haloti Ngata broke Ben’s nose into a thousand pieces). I’m not saying we should cut him, but I definitely do not think he is a dominant starter in any way, shape, or form.

  • Wrote a good while ago that I don’t see Gilbert as being a good fit at left tackle

  • Never said he was dominant.

  • mokhkw

    Foster is a solid player – but one you’d always be looking at replacing.

    If DeCastro is going to play at RG, having Foster at LG is a bit of a liability imo.

    TBH, I dunno why most ppl are saying Adams will be a back-up this year.

    Take away the maturity issues and he’s definitely makes it on talent. Scouts say he’s the most “NFL-ready” OT in the draft behind Kahil. He probably would have gone in the 1st Rd. if it wasn’t for his mistakes.

    Marvel Smith started in year 1 ( 9 games) & his resume out of college is very similar to Adams.

    If he was picked in the 1st Rd. everyone would assume he’d be starting. He didn’t slip because of a lack of talent

    Is the plan still to move Gilbert to LT? I’d rather he stay at RT, sign Starks to play LT until Adams beats him out ( which he should by mid-season)) and move Colon to LG.

    Adams-Colon-Pouncey-DeCastro-Gilbert would put our 5 most talented OL on the field. I think Adams to better suited to LT than Gilbert is

    Sure there would be some growing pains but once they came together they could be awesome. I can’t see how it could be any worse than the plug-ins we’ve had the past 3 years. Aside from Colon, every other OL above is under 25, meaning we could have this group together for years to come.

    That would also leave us with 3 very capable back-ups ( Starks, Foster,Legursky) in case of injury.

    Can’t wait for pre-season to see how this all plays out.

  • “Take away the maturity issues” You just answered your own question.

  • kevin

    I don’t think the center crop was good as a whole in the NFL last year, particularly with Mangold being hurt for a significant period of time.

  • kevin

    I consider Ramon Foster to be similar to Keydrick Vincent in the mid 2000s. He is not spectacular and not as talented as many others, but he got the job done more often than not. Also, if he is the weak link of the line, your line is pretty good.

  • kevin

    It would be counterproductive to cut Colon this year. The Steelers restructured his contract, so they would be saving very little by cutting him. In fact, it would only serve to accelerate that restructured money into this year’s cap and next year’s cap. Colon is on this team regardless.

  • Sisqotoo

    Put Gilbert at LG


    Agree with everything above, especially if Gilbert in pre-season doesn’t show to be exceptional at LT, start Adams or Starks at LT. And since we always keep 9 OLinemen, there is still room for Essex as 3rd or 4th option at every position. I hope the staff doesn’t feel obligated to play Colon at RT at all costs just to save face for what they have paid him.

  • Jprankster2005

    I would like to see the Steelers sign him to say a 3 yr. deal…… It would be nice to have 6 of the best lineman signed threw the next 3 yrs……..Decastro,Pouncey,Adams,Foster,Gilbert and Colon…… I would also like to see Legursky signed to maybe 2 yrs. or 3……. I hope Scott doesn’t make the team……. They can use the cap money and he’s def. not worth the 2.2 million…… If he does make the team they should make him take the min…..

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    I meant cut him in a year, but i was off regardless, seeing as how he is our new LG

  • Frankthebuc

    When the Steelers cut Tony Hills because he refused to take a pay cut, they signed back Essex, Starks and eventually signed Meredith. They asked Hills to take a 600K pay cut and ended up spending close to $US1.8 million for replacements.

    Who knows what kind of player Hills would have been but my point is they nitpicked him and it cost them. JScott is not worth $2.2 million, but he was worth more than that when he started 12 games and played great in the Super Bowl against the Packers.

    The key here is dependable backups who can play two positions are worth gold. Look at the Patriots they always have experienced veterans backing up both lines.

    Remember this, when you pay a guy the minimum, you will get the minimum and no more. I want veteran experienced depth on both lines.

    Predictions Steelers 11-5 , Bengals 10-6, Ravens 8-8 Browns 7-9

  • SteelersDepot

    Um they gave Hills the low restricted tender as he was a RFA. You have no proof that asked him to take a pay cut.