2014 was not an easy year from Ramon Foster by any means. The Pittsburgh Steelers starting left guard lost his mother over the summer, and during the year, battled an early injury that caused him to miss two games. The injury lingered and affected his play, in what proved to be perhaps his worst season since entering the starting lineup.
When judging Foster’s play, the primary barometer by which I measure how well he is executing his game is his play-to-play consistency, which has been his biggest strength over the majority of his professional career.
And the truth is that he has come back very strong in 2015, putting forth one of his best seasons, bettered perhaps only by the 2013 season, during which he was the Steelers’ best lineman after losing Maurkice Pouncey early in the season opener.
That year, the line relied heavily on him as the only real veteran. Mike Adams, and eventually Kelvin Beachum, were trying to man the left tackle position after an injury-plagued rookie year. David DeCastro, the second-year first-round pick whose rookie year was nearly entirely wiped out by injury, was coming into his own at right guard. Third-year right tackle Marcus Gilbert played every game, but much of it through injury.
And then there was the center position, over which Foster had to assume a great amount of control, first with Fernando Velasco, whom the Steelers signed off the street only to start a few days later, and then Cody Wallace, who also was only brought in after final cuts.
It was up the Foster to organize and manage the line, and to give the signal to snap. He was the nucleus of that line, and I think that season really helped him grow into his own, certainly as a professional and as a leader, but perhaps personally as well.
And I think that we have also seen that growth, professionally, as well as personally, in Foster this year, once again helping to manage Wallace at center, while playing it own game, and all the while acting as the leader of the offensive line group.
It is no surprise that he was honored with The Chief Award, named after Art Rooney Sr. Awarded by the local media who best represents the strong, positive relationship with the media and the community, Foster has established himself as both a charitable figure in the community as well as a strong weekly soundbite, for the right reasons.
It is at this point unimaginable for me to imagine Foster in another uniform next year, after his three-year contract expires. He means more to this team, both on and off the field, than a lot of people realize, and those same people also tend to underestimate his game.
The former undrafted rookie recently played his 100th game in seven seasons, with 86 of the now 101 games in the starting lineup. The 29-year-old is exactly the type of hard-working, humble ‘energy-bringer’, to use a Tomlinism, that quality teams must have, and I think it would be mutually beneficial for the Steelers and Foster to stay together.