We don’t always manage to get all the details during OTAs simply because reporters are limited as to what they are able to communicate because it requires verbal confirmation from players to pass along certain types of information, such as who is playing where and why—and who is not playing.
This article is about the latter, because Pittsburgh Steelers left guard Ramon Foster told reporters yesterday that he has essentially not practiced during OTAs after he had microscopic knee surgery on his right knee, according to Joe Rutter, writing for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“I was out there one day [early in OTAs], but [the knee] wasn’t ready at the time”, he told reporters, adding that coaches had elected to be cautious in holding him out. Foster missed two starts and parts of other games due to injury last season, but that was an upper-body injury.
The last injury report of the season on which Foster was listed was in the week leading up to the Steelers’ final regular-season game against the Bengals in Week 15, and he was listed as a full participant with a chest injury on each of the three days, a week after not practicing at all and being listed as questionable before ultimately missing the Week 14 game in Buffalo.
Perhaps I missed it, but I had not previously read a report that Foster was routinely missing practices or that he had microscopic knee surgery, perhaps because he had not previously discussed it with the media, and thus they could not report that information.
But while he has been missing from the lineup, that has enabled the Steelers’ two younger reserves, B.J. Finney and Chris Hubbard, to get a lot of quality reps with the first-team offensive line in practices during OTAs. That is perhaps more valuable for the latter rather than the former, as he has worked more at tackle the past year.
“I get the chance to support the young guys, and they get the chance to show what they can do and make the necessary corrections”, Foster told reporters about his absence being a blessing in disguise. “It helps develop consistency, which you have to build on this time of the year”.
Both Finney and Hubbard started three games apiece last season and delivered performances that would be appropriately deemed above the line, but they both need to continue to get better and to grow, so these reps, and all others, are of value.
In the meantime, it doesn’t seem as though there is any concern about Foster, in the short term or the long, when it comes to his knee affecting his ultimate availability when we move on from the ‘shorts’ phase of the football calendar.