Ramon Foster has started more games for the Pittsburgh Steelers than anybody along the offensive line since he joined the team as a rookie undrafted free agent in 2009.
Of course, he is also the oldest and longest-tenured lineman among the starters—but he had never officially been a starter until the 2013 season.
Still, he always managed to find a way into the lineup, often due to injury, even playing once at right tackle when necessary. He started 42 games from 2009 to 2012, including 16 games in the latter year—13 at right guard and three at left.
That was the year, of course, that the Steelers drafted David DeCastro, who immediately took over the starting right guard spot before a torn MCL almost completely knocked out his rookie season, giving Foster another year of starting.
That starting time and steady improvement led to the Steelers re-signing him to a three-year contract and parting with Willie Colon, finally recognizing Foster as a starter and keeping him at left guard, where he played the last three games.
And he can’t wait to get back in the lineup after missing only his second game since 2011.
The Steelers offensive line is coming off by far its best performance of the season, with Cody Wallace filling in for Foster at left guard, against a stout Carolina Panthers front four, even without the presence of Greg Hardy.
The offensive line only surrendered one sack and another quarterback hurry or two, but for most of the night, Ben Roethlisberger had a clean pocket to work from. He had already taken five sacks in the first two games.
More importantly, however, the offensive line was at its best in the running game, opening up holes and leading the charge to a mammoth 265-yard day from Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, who became the first pair of Steelers running backs to eclipse the 100-yard mark in the same game since 1986.
The impressive performance vaulted the Steelers to tops in the league with their rushing attack, as they now average 163.3 rushing yards per game. The team also ranks fifth in the league in total yardage now, and has moved up to 12th in points, as a result of the strong offensive showing driven largely by the offensive line.
And the replacement part, Wallace, was easily the weakest link in the chain, though Kelvin Beachum also had his struggles.
Foster was arguably the team’s most consistent lineman a year ago, although he has struggled to get going this year. But getting him back into the starting lineup as the offensive line begins to gel should be good for both himself and the team.