With the Pittsburgh Steelers coming off their bye week and there soon being little to talk about in the interim outside of returning players, now would be as good a time as any to take a look back on what’s transpired this season and give out some mid-year player evaluations.
The team has had a rocky but ultimately successful season to date, coming out of the first eight games with a 6-2 record, tied for the best in the AFC along with the Patriots and the Chiefs, the latter of whom they have already beaten.
The offense has not lived up to its billing for the most part this year, though the running game has had its moments. Defensively, the sacks have come, and the secondary has improved, but there will always be things to work on.
Player: Ramon Foster, LG
I admit that I don’t actually know all that much about Ramon Foster off of the football field, yet I can’t help but find him to be one of my favorite people in the NFL. He is the Steelers’ player representative for the union, and has over the past several years become one of the primary communicators between the locker room and the media.
You don’t get bonus points for that on the field, though, and the reason that Foster is closing in on a decade in the league right now is because he has played well, and consistently, for a long time. While he has had some injuries in recent years—including missing a game this season—he has been a rock for some time now.
Which is kind of funny to think about when you consider that he was never viewed as a full-time starter until the 2013 season. The year prior to that, they kicked Willie Colon to left guard and were set to start a rookie David DeCastro.
But he still started every game that year after DeCastro missed the first 13 with a torn MCL. Then Colon went down for the final three games and Foster moved from right guard to left guard, where he has remained for the past four years.
And where he has settled into his own. In fact, I believe he deserves a lot of credit for helping to bring Alejandro Villanueva along over the course of the past three years, and has worked well with him in picking up stunts and blitzes.
Not necessarily known as the athlete of the group—he is unquestionably the least athletic—Foster has still performed some effective pulls this season, and in my observation it seems to me at times that they have been using him in that role more than in years past.
The bedrock of his play, however, has for a long time simply been his consistency. While he doesn’t do any one thing at an All-Pro level, he does everything well, and almost every time. When it comes to 2017, the song remains the same.