Rookie LB Putting Best "Foote" Forward

<p>LATROBE -- Ask Steelers rookie Larry Foote what his best attribute is and you'll get a surprising answer.</p> <p>Is it his athleticism, intensity or hustle? No, even though Foote displays those qualities. What Foote brings to the football field is something coaches always look for in a player.</p>

"I make a lot of big plays," said Foote, a fourth-round draft pick of the Steelers. "When I step on the field, I do everything at 110 percent. That's how I am. That's how I was raised. So whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it."

You could say that Foote is just hoping to get his foot in the door with the Steelers. Thus far in team's training camp at St. Vincent College, it's worked very well. Despite the fact he's had to work behind 2001 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Kendrell Bell at left inside linebacker, Foote has opened eyes.

Last Thursday, running back R.J. Bowers caught a short pass over the middle. As soon as he turned, Foote was there to meet him, burying Bowers in the turf for what has been the biggest hit of training camp. Bowers suffered a hip pointer on the play and missed the next two days of practice.

I like his energy," said head coach Bill Cowher of Foote, the 2001 Big Ten Conference Defensive Player of the Year. "He isn't always in the right place right now, but I like his approach to the game."

Foote said it will take him some time to make the adjustment from college, where his aggressiveness carried him, to the NFL, where he will be called upon to do more thinking.

"It's a little different as far as the mental standpoint," Foote said of the NFL. "Everything's very serious. In college, you had a lot more time to learn. Here, if you mess something up one time, they're on you. So you've got take care of the little stuff."

It's kind of rough. But I did it in college so I'm just going to work hard to climb back up the mountain."

Despite earning nearly every individual honor possible in college, Foote failed to impress scouts at his combine workouts. The 6-foot, 231-pound Foote's best time in the 40-yard dash was in the 4.8 second range, causing him to fall in the draft.

The Steelers were very happy he was still around in the fourth round.

They saw him as the perfect kind of player who will help them on special teams immediately while he learns their complex defense. Foote doesn't hold a grudge over falling so far in the draft. He's just happy to finally be in the NFL.

"I had my ups and downs in college. You know how it is. You have a bad game here or there and people are ready to write you off," Foote said.

"For the most part, I knew I was going to get here. But coming into the NFL, I never knew how it was going to be. But the some of the other guys, they're a lot older, so they're wiser. You can learn a lot from them."

"I'm trying to follow suit in their tradition of great linebackers. Hopefully guys will someday put me on that plateau."

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