Ryan Lilja versus Larry Foote

When the Colts and the Steelers clash on Monday Night, left guard Ryan Lilja will be keeping right inside linebacker Larry Foote in his line of sight.

If and when the Colts run outside the tackles against a 3-4 defense, it's the responsibility of the guard to pull and get to the second level to hit/block the interior linebacker on that side. For example, when these runs are called on Monday Night, you will see LG Ryan Lilja pull, get upfield, and locate RILB Larry Foote

Pulling and second level quickness are Lilja's greatest assets -- just ask New England's Tedy Bruschi. When the Colts played at New England in Week 9, Lilja was successfully invading the second level, getting his hands on Bruschi, sealing him off and thus creating bigger holes for Edgerrin James

Can Lilja have this same success against Larry Foote? Ryan Lilja is a short, pudgy offensive lineman with a square build. Ryan has good initial and lateral quickness. He gets off the ball very well and shows the ability to adjust on the move. This ability to adjust will prove vital on Monday, because RILB Larry Foote's quickness makes him difficult to track down. 

Foote has played so well in Kendrell Bell's place (Bell signed with the Chiefs in free agency), Steeler fans are asking, " Kendrell who?" this season. Foote has good speed, takes smart angles to the ball, and rarely runs himself out of position in run defense. He lacks ideal bulk needed to take on blocks, so he relies on his quick instincts to beat blockers to spots. So Lilja's second-level quickness will be tested against him. 

Foote is not very big or physical, so he will struggle at times when defending the run right at him. So I fully expect Peyton Manning and offensive coordinator Tom Moore to call several runs in Foote's direction early in the game. The keys to success for these runs hinge on two things; Lilja's ability to free himself from Pittsburgh's space-consuming defensive front so that he can get up-field, and him locating and actually getting his hands on the speedy Foote.

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