Foote talks about the future

A year ago at this time, Larry Foote was looked on as a valuable backup linebacker and special teams player for the Steelers.

But one year later, it is Foote whom the Steelers gave big money to, allowing injury-prone Kendrell Bell to sign with Kansas City, while giving Foote a five-year, $13.4-million deal that included a $3.25 million signing bonus.

Many fans have questioned giving Foote that kind of money. But the fact he started all 16 games – and both playoff games – and is continuing to get better weighed heavily on the team's mind. Foote also ranked fourth on the team with 78 tackles and recorded three sacks and an interception in his first full season as a starter – even though he did share time with Bell for three games.

I caught up with Foote at the Steelers' voluntary camp last week:

Q: You have to feel pretty good. The team showed you a lot of love.
LF: Yeah. They showed me some love. They definitely did that. It took the worrying and thinking about what was going to happen in the future off my mind. Now I can just concentrate on football.

Q: Can you play either inside linebacker spot?
LF: Yeah, I can play both of them.

Q: You feel comfortable doing that.
LF: Oh yeah.

Q: With the contract that you got, do you feel more is expected from you? Do you have to take on more of a leadership role?
LF: Yeah. We definitely have leaders on this team, but that's a role I want to take as well. That's the type of guy I am. I'm a starter now, so guys are going to look at me a little differently. But you have to do it on the field, in the weight room. They have to see my approach, my leadership and step up on the field and see how serious I am about practice. Guys will feed off of that and start listening to you. I want to help this team win.

Q: Their interest in Chad Brown, did that faze you at all?
LF: Not really. I didn't really know about it until a couple of guys asked me about it. I did enough worrying about other people and competition in previous years. Now, I'm just concentrating on getting better every day. That's the only thing I can control.

Q: What do you need to do to get better?
LF: Work hard. Mainly it's experience. I got a year under my belt so I'm more confident now. Them telling me I'm a starter going into a season helps. I know the defense better having played the whole year. Doing that, you really know the defense. I thought I knew it before being a backup and doing it in practice, but being out there in the fire, you know the ins and outs. I'm going to be even sharper this coming season. I'll be faster knowing what to do.

Q: How'd you feel at the end of the season? You hadn't started that many games before. It was like 20-some games with the preseason.
LF: I wasn't beat up. Everybody makes jokes about it, but I had more injuries playing (special) teams. There's a lot more space and a lot more speed. I was good. The Lord blessed me and I came out injury-free. I've just got to keep the same approach. I've never had a major injury.

Q: Do you miss special teams at all?
LF: No.

Q: But that's where you get to light guys up.
LF: I'll do whatever. Just put me on the field. I love the game. I expect to be on a couple of them this year, punt and whatever. I've got no problem with that.

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