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Derwin Gray: Ramon Foster ‘Has Been A Big Brother For Me’, Still Reaching Out

Ramon Foster may have retired, but that doesn’t mean his contributions to the Pittsburgh Steelers are over. You may or may not have noticed his continued, or even accelerated, presence on Twitter since he announced his retirement. There is a lot more that you don’t see, however, and never will see, but which you may hear about here and there.

Take Derwin Gray, for example. He was the Steelers’ seventh-round pick a year ago. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad, and this year is hoping to crack the 53-man roster. With Foster gone, perhaps that becomes a little bit easier.

The Maryland lineman recently spoke to Teresa Varley for the team’s website, and one of the topics he discussed what just how helpful Foster has been to him since he was drafted. “He has been a big brother for me”, he said. “When he saw me struggling last year, not getting the minutes or on the field, he was there for me. It was a challenging year. He kept me level-headed and understanding the business side of it”.

He also added that he remains in contact and has spoken to Foster recently a few times. Gray called him “a teacher, a motivator”, and I think that’s a categorization that a lot of linemen who came into Pittsburgh in the past several years would agree with.

“Now he is excited to see me play and I am ready to show him I am ready”, he said. “I want to show him I can do it. I know he will be giving me his input. I am excited for it. I want him to come back and see me play this season”.

Gray, of course, isn’t the only young lineman in the building—whenever they do get into the building. After the Steelers drafted Kevin Dotson in the fourth round, Foster said on Twitter that he’s “an open book to him whenever he hits me”. Earlier, he also said he’d mentor players, but “my cleats are on the power lines outside the facility”—meaning they’re never coming down.

I don’t know if he’ll ever think about taking up coaching, but it’s really cool to hear him continue to be engaged in the Steelers and in their offensive line. After all, someone like Gray, whom he was with all last year, would also be somebody you become friendly with, not just a teammate. Offensive linemen tend to be close-knit, and Pittsburgh’s room, because of guys like Foster, have long been particularly tight.

He’s also been the example for every late-round pick or undrafted free agent who’s come in and found success after him—Doug Legursky; Kelvin Beachum; Chris Hubbard; Alejandro Villanueva; B.J. Finney; Matt Feiler. Fred Johnson is even a guy he singled out early in OTAs last year. He might be a starter for the Cincinnati Bengals this year—as much as that might sting.

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