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