Nobody has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers longer than has left guard Ramon Foster other than quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the team’s first-round draft pick back in 2004. Foster was an undrafted free agent in 2009 who has stuck around year after year before ultimately becoming among their most reliable players and most valued members of the locker room.
The 32-year-old overcame a significant ankle injury that wiped out most of his training camp and the preseason this year to come back to start the season opener and play every snap since, one of only two linemen on the team to do so this year.
He has been one of their most consistent players since first entering the starting lineup on a full-time basis in 2013, though he already had a lot of starting experience prior to that, including the entirety of the 2012 season, thanks to a torn MCL that kept then-rookie David DeCastro out of the lineup for most of the year.
He has accomplished quite a bit in his career, and doesn’t take any of it for granted, but there is still one very important thing missing from his resume, which he can’t help but think about: a championship ring.
Foster is in the final year of a three-year contract, and the Steelers have two backup offensive linemen who have played well, or very well, when given the opportunity to start at guard over the past few years, namely B.J. Finney and Matt Feiler, the latter of whom is their primary backup tackle right now.
In other words, there is some question about whether or not the 2018 season is the end of the road for him in Pittsburgh. He’s not sure himself. Which makes it all the more important to him that the team is able to maximize its potential to win the Super Bowl this season.
Talking about how the team’s championship groups of the past, even most recently in 2008 (the year before he came out), were known for their defensive prowess, he told reporters, “I want my group to be remembered that way. I want to be able to say this era of the offensive line, let’s go 2014 to 2018, marched their way into the Super Bowl with their quarterback”.
To that end, the offensive line has held up their end of the bargain. The Steelers are one of only six teams to have given up 10 sacks or fewer so far this year, and of that group, they have more attempts (significantly more in most cases) than all but one of the others.
Roethlisberger has arguably never had better protection in his career, going back through the past four seasons. He has only been sacked 68 times since the start of the 2015 season, a span of 48 games. But what good is it without a championship?
About the emerging young talent behind him, Foster said, “I see what’s happening here. I understand it. I respect it”. While he said it “would be awesome” to return next year, he knew the “likelihood” of it was questionable. “I don’t want to make it a victory-lap thing. I just want to win a ring here”.