Ramon Foster said yesterday in his return to practice that if there were a meaningful game to play this weekend, he would play. luckily for him and for the Pittsburgh Steelers, there isn’t, so he still has about two weeks to get right and get some practice reps in to knock the rust off after missing most of training camp and what will end up being all of the preseason.
But, assuming that he is right about his ability to be able to play, that does mean that third-year interior offensive lineman B.J. Finney will miss out on the opportunity to enjoy a brief stint in the starting lineup in what otherwise could said to be a potential sign of things to come.
The former college free agent is the team’s top reserve lineman and has started seven games over the past two years, five of them due to injury, all of which have come at Foster’s left guard position. That is where he has played best in his career—even better than at right guard.
The general assumption is that Finney will be the successor to that spot whenever Foster’s time is up. Some wondered if his time would come now if he were unable to get back into the starting lineup when the regular season begins.
The thought goes that if Finney starts and continues to play as well as he has when he has gotten the opportunity to play at left guard, then the coaching staff may decide to play the ‘hot hand’, which will naturally transition into a changing of the guard—literally—at the position.
Foster is 32 years old now and in the final year of his contract, so a change is going to happen sooner rather than later, most likely. Not a lot of linemen play too deep into their 30s, and frankly a good portion of those who do end up making it into the Hall of Fame.
But while Foster has had a great career, especially relative to his comparatively ‘humble’ beginnings, he’s not ready to concede anything. He wants to play, and to start, and to be on the field when the confetti falls in February. That is his goal. That is his mission.
He also still wants to named to the Pro Bowl outright. In his nine seasons, he was named a Pro Bowl alternate last season for the first time. He declined, no doubt in part because he wants to earn it without being passed over.
It’s great to see the ‘Big Ragu’ still as hungry as ever heading into his 10th season in the National Football League. It helps that he is just a very easy human to like and to root for, but he also deserves a lot more credit and recognition than he has gotten over time. He’s not ready to concede the next chapter of his career, and I’m not sure I’m ready to see it happen either.