Foote's the forgotten man

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b>You'll forgive Larry Foote if he's feeling a little left out right now. <br><br> Ben Roethlisberger is getting rock star-like attention. Everybody is raving about the job Chris Hoke, Willie Williams and Keydrick Vincent have done filling in for injured starters.

But nobody talks about Foote any longer, except to wonder when it will be that he is permanently replaced by Kendrell Bell, whom he's been filling for since the team's second preseason game.

"I don't know what they're thinking," said Foote of the Steelers' coaching staff. "I'm just going to keep on going out there until they tell me not to."

Foote has continued to start despite the fact Bell has been healthy for the team's past two games. Bell logged 16 plays in the team's victory over Philadelphia two weeks ago, compared to just 10 for Foote, but it was Foote who was on the field for 19 plays in Sunday's win over Cleveland, with Bell spending 17 snaps on the field.

Foote knows that sooner or later, Bell - the 2001 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year - will send him to the bench for good. But it's a testament to how well he's played that the Steelers haven't felt the need to rush Bell back into action.

"I feel like I've played pretty well," said Foote, who also started a handful of games as a rookie in place of an injured Bell in 2002. "I know what I'm doing a lot better now than I did as a rookie. It's been night and day."

But has he played well enough to make the Steelers re-think offering Bell a contract at the end of this season?

"I hope I opened some eyes, but I don't know," said Foote, who has 43 tackles, the fourth-best total on the team. "I don't know what's in store for me. But I hope I showed them I'm able to handle whatever they need me to do."
  • It looks like Jerome Bettis will handle most of the running duties once again when the Steelers play at Cincinnati Sunday, with head coach Bill Cowher looking to rest Duce Staley once again.

    Staley hasn't looked like a guy who's struggling with a hamstring injury. In fact, he's moving around like there's nothing wrong with him.

    One has to wonder if Cowher isn't just saving Staley for the stretch run?

    If he is, it's not a good idea. The Steelers were running the ball very effectively utilizing Staley between the 5s and Bettis inside and as a short-yardage guy. If they get Bettis banged up at the expense of resting Staley, that's a mistake.

    Certainly Cowher has reason to feel confident in the running game with Bettis carrying the ball. But Staley remains the team's best rushing option and if he's close to being completely healthy, he should be playing.

  • I did a radio show with a station from New York Thursday morning and they asked me to compare Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger as Manning heads into his first start.

    As far as the weapons are concerned, they are comparable. Like Roethlisberger, Manning has a strong running game and good receivers to utilize. The difference? The Giants' offensive line is horrible and Manning will be running for his life a good bit.

    If Manning and Roethlisberger traded places, I'm not sure Manning wouldn't be having the same kind of success with the Steelers that Roethlisberger has had. But Roethlisberger might be better behind New York's offensive line thanks to his escapability and his ability to feel the pass rush.

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