Stepping up when someone is injured is nothing new for Steelers guard Ramon Foster. When Chris Kemoeatu was injured in 2009, and again in 2010 along with Trai Essex, it was Foster who stepped in and held things down. In 2011 injuries once again threw him into the lineup, starting for Kemoeatu yet again and Doug Legursky, and eventually earning a starting spot.
Now he is being thrown into the mix one more time because of an injury on the offensive line, but this time it's a little different.
With offensive co-captain and leader of the line Maurkice Pouncey out for the season, Foster is taking on the leadership role for the line. And he sought the advice of someone who knows a bit about what it takes to lead a group, Coach Mike Tomlin.
"He's committed to leading that group through these tough times," said Tomlin. "It's good to have a veteran guy like him that has been around situations in these circumstances."
Foster, in his fifth season in the league, knows that the offensive line is a young group. David DeCastro and Mike Adams are in just their second season. Marcus Gilbert and Kelvin Beachum are third-year players. And center Fernando Velasco is in his fourth season.
"I felt there was a need to talk to him," said Foster. "We are young in the offensive line room so I just wanted to ask him what parameters and how to go about certain things. We all know how to lead, but you can always get advice from someone who leads guys.
"You just have to do whatever you can to help this team be successful. It was one of those things that I just needed a little bit of advice asking him how much to push guys. He is the right guy to go to about that. I asked him what more we need to be successful. He gave me that and I just need to move forward with what he gave me."
Included in that advice was something simple for Foster, keep leading by example but just take it to the next level.
"I just need to show it more. I need to be the guy on the field they model their game after," said Foster. "It's more action than it is talking. It's little things, advising guys on what to do and how to do it. It's instilling the mindset so we can be the offensive line we know we can be.
"Other groups will feed off of us. We just need to initiate it and make it happen."
One thing Foster said the offensive line needs to do is revert back to the nasty attitude the line had when he first arrived, when guys played with more of an edge.
"You saw on film, it was bad guys," said Foster. "We have to exhibit that more. We have the guys to do that. The guys who were drafted here and came here through free agency, they brought them here because they were that type of guy. We have to pull that out of guys, including myself, more often. Guys look at our film the next week and they have to understand what they're going against.
"We are the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line. We have to show that it's not going to come easy. Guys understand that now."