Does Steelers G Ramon Foster Still Have Room For Growth?

By Jeremy Hritz

Much of the talk this offseason about the Steelers offensive line has been focused on Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Mike Adams, and Marcus Gilbert and their potential for excellence. Lost in the discussion has been the steady and consistent Ramon Foster. While not as “shiny” a name as the other Steelers offensive lineman, Foster has been dependable since earning a spot on the team as a rookie free agent in 2009 and starting 42 of 57 games in his first four years. 30 of those 42 starts have come in the last two seasons. While the other aforementioned lineman have been stricken by injury, Foster has stayed healthy and has been the biggest source of stability on the unit. While he hasn’t yet proven to be a dominant player, he has been good, and with 42 starts to his credit entering his fifth season at age 27, Foster’s seasoning may boost his performance in 2013.

It’s surprising that Foster is even back in Pittsburgh this season, as it was widely speculated that he would not be resigned due to second year player Kelvin Beachum play at the end of 2012. However, this past March, Foster resigned with the Steelers for three years, a signing that may be prove to be a quiet windfall if Foster rewards them with Pro Bowl caliber play.

After four seasons, has Foster reached his ceiling? Or does he still have room for growth? And, at the conclusion of the 2013 season, could Foster claim the title as the Steelers best offensive lineman?

In college at the University of Tennessee, Foster was a three-year starter, primarily at right tackle, that was praised for his size (6’5, 328) but was criticized for his speed and ability to handle quicker defenders. The questions surrounding Foster resulted in going undrafted and luckily for the Steelers, they signed him as a free agent in April of 2009. For a player that wasn’t even selected, Foster went on to start four games in his rookie season when Chris Kemoeatu was lost to injury, which demonstrated his ability to adapt rapidly to the professional game.

However, since that time, Foster has never won a starting guard position outright, as injuries in 2010 and 2011 led to his starting role, and in 2012, if it wasn’t for DeCastro’s knee injury, Foster more than likely would have been a backup. Has Foster proven himself enough in his multiple starts over the last four seasons that he has truly earned a starting position? Or do the Steelers feel that Beachum is simply too young and inexperienced to take over the starting role?

If Foster’s resigning means anything, maybe it is that the Steelers are confident in what he brings to the offensive line as a model of consistency. And as indicated in his comments earlier this offseason, he is not taking his starting role for granted, remembering where he started from as an undrafted free-agent: “I tell the young guys, if it’s me or you, I’m going to step on your head to get the job done.”

Crushed heads aside, the confidence that the Steelers organization have expressed in Foster as a result of his resigning and his pre-camp starting role may initiate an improvement in his play, and even if not, he has proven something that the other o-lineman have not: he can stay healthy. And considering the injuries in Pittsburgh over the last few seasons, cannot be overstated.

  • steeltown

    Model of consistency and even more so versatility earned this guy a new contract. I love when undrafted players make a name for themselves. I knew he’s saved our butts quite a few times over the last 4yrs, but starting 42 of 57 games that’s alot more than I thought

  • VaDave

    I don’t know if he’s got room to grow, but it’s said he’s about 20lbs lighter than he was last year. This was a good signing, almost a no brainer at his contract price. From a talent standpoint IMO he’s kind of a middle road, but his position flexibility makes him more of an asset than his physical skills, and positional acumen.
    One other point, and this is a big one: Over the years we’ve been running a counter trap play with our LG pulling a lot. It’s been our bread and butter running play for decades. If there is a shortcoming in Foster’s game this is it. He’s been passable blocking “in a phone booth”, but on the run, of which he’s not real fast, sudden, or quick, is not the most dependable blocker. I’m real interested to see if he can pull ( no pun intended) this off. If he can, we got a steal. If not, we have some really great depth for cheap.

  • cencalsteeler

    I gotta say, it sure is nice to see all of these feel good articles. The team really seems to be doing all the necessary things that breeds success. Whether it’s working out down with Shaw, to vets showing up to workouts, to rookies really making efforts to grasp the systems. It is a nice breath of fresh air from last seasons issues, and makes me very proud to be a fan of such a great organization, THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS!

  • steeltown

    Yea.. he’s sort of like the next generation Trai Essex, but seemingly more talented. A jack of all trades master of none

  • Douglas Andrews

    I alway thought this was a good signing for the Steelers. Didn’t cost the Steelers much and Foster is a good serviceable G who has been pretty solid not great. I like Foster’s game and hopefully he will help some of the young guys on our O line. As far as Foster getting any better…I think he’s at the point in his career where he is what he is. I like the fact that he’s been pretty durable. If he’s lost some weight it can only help his game.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    “if Foster rewards (the Steelers) with Pro Bowl caliber play”….and If we had no national debt, my monkey would be my uncle. Wait a minute, I’m confusing a few things here, however, I’m not nearly as confused as anyone who would write Ramon Foster and Pro Bowl in the same sentence.

    Looking forward to Foster adequately performing his job contributing to a very strong O-line this year.

  • NW86

    And the amazing part is that he has never before entered the season as a starter. All of those starts have been in place of Colon, Kemo, or DeCastro.

  • steeltown

    Yep.. barring some unforeseen force I think he finally starts at LG this year though, he’s earned it

  • sgtrobo

    which is funny considering how bad Kemo was and how inconsistent and penalty-prone Colon was

  • sgtrobo

    nono. Trai Essex was terrible at every position he played except for Center, where he was just below average

  • steeltown

    He was a terrible offensive tackle for sure, which is funny because he played LT in college, but he was an ok OG and Center.. but you’re right Foster is actually a pretty capable RT when comparing to Essex

  • Don

    AGREED- when its time to rebuild, Pittsburgh didn’t waste any time dumping the stars and their salaries. Start over and good luck with the project cause the status quo wasn’t hacking it. Well done

  • Shannon Stephenson

    consistantly average but was maybe the biggest signing this off season. I love guys like this who just grind. Not sure if he has much upside but he is a gamer

  • Madi

    Foster has room to get better, but I’m not sure “growth” is the right word…

  • steves

    Don’t ya think if Foster was Pro Bowl material he would be starting???

  • walter mason

    While I agree not pro bowl caliber, I think he will be starting this year.

  • steves

    With the Steelers,, I think NOT! Foster may sub for someone but the line is set. Sorry Charlie,,, where you been lately, what you been smokin Willard?

  • walter mason

    LOL steves. Set with who? Who do you have playing left OG? Wow you need to keep up man. . Foster has been playing and he will most likely keep on playing because we have no replacement at this time.. Colon is long gone.