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Woodley knows familiar faces will step up

Posted May 29, 2012

The Steelers defense might have gone through some changes this offseason with the departure of James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke, but at the same time there are some familiar faces who are taking over their roles.

“Different guys at new positions have to step up,” said LaMarr Woodley. “We have starting guys stepping up for people that left. Ziggy Hood started when Aaron Smith went down. Larry Foote is a starter who has been in there for years on defense. I don’t think we lost too much as far as experience with the guys who have been playing.”

Foote won’t only be asked to take over the starting inside linebacker spot that Farrior had, but he also is stepping in as the defensive play-caller.

“That’s all we need him to do, call the plays and he can go out there and play the way he can play,” said Woodley. “Don’t expect anything different out of Foote. He is now the play caller and has to get this defense lined up.”

Foote spent the first week of OTAs adjusting to his new role of defensive play-caller, a role he welcomes despite the added responsibility.
 
“Coach (Keith) Butler put that responsibility on me and I have to get those guys right,” said Foote. “It can be draining a little bit. This defense is complex but we need those guys if we are going to win. I have a little coach in me. It’s fun.”

Foote started five games at inside linebacker in 2011 and is using OTAs as the first step to prepare for the season.

“We are just sharpening our sword and getting ready for training camp,” said Foote. “The more repetitions, the better you are going to be, whether you have been in the league two years or 15 years. The more you get out here the better and sharper you are going to be.”

* * *

Another player who will be called upon for a different role this year is wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery, who is entering his ninth season, is the veteran among the group and while leadership will be a key for him, producing on the field is what he has his sights set on.

“I am working to get my role established here,” said Cotchery. “I feel like I can help the team. I am growing in the offense and with the program to help this team win games. I am the veteran of the group. I have seen a lot of things in this league. I have seen it all take place. I am a guy someone can come to and ask questions. I am here for the young guys to help them in whatever area they need.

“My main role is to get established so I can get on the field and help the team win. I want to win a Super Bowl and we know what kind of work it takes to get that accomplished and everyone is working towards that.”

Cotchery said he will do whatever is asked of him, playing either the slot or outside as he prides himself on knowing all of the positions and continues to work on that during OTAs.

“That is what this time is about, learning the system, getting comfortable within the system, and showing those things in training camp and being ready to hit it when the season comes,” said Cotchery. “I can play every position. In that regard I want the coaching staff to be comfortable if any guy goes down, I can fill in anywhere. That is how I have always done it, learn every position on the field and go from there. “

* * *

Defensive end Cameron Heyward didn’t have the luxury of taking part in OTAs last year because of the NFL lockout and is taking full advantage of the extra time this offseason.

“I hope it helps a lot,” said Heyward. “It’s a time for us to really take in the playbook, get comfortable in our stance and technique and just a chance to improve. I think we got thrown into the fire last year, but we were dealt the cards that way. I just need to go out there and improve.”

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