All it takes is one look around the Steelers' offensive line room for Ramon Foster to break out into his familiar smile. It's because what he sees, he can't help but like.
The room is loaded with not just good friends, not just great teammates, but great talent. Talent that Foster thinks could make a huge difference this year.
2016 minicamp is underway at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
"No disrespect to the guys before us, but the depth, experience and camaraderie that we have right now, the only thing that is lacking with us from the offensive lines before us is a Super Bowl ring," said Foster. "We have to cap this off with a ring. This type of team and offensive line room, the coaches in the room, is one of the best that I have ever been around. Guys that have come, Ryan (Harris) even said it, it's fun to be around.
"The only thing that is holding us back from being a group that is talked about is that ring. I feel like we are a big part of getting that. Barring injuries I think everybody has their eyes fixated on solidifying ourselves with that ring."
The line will get Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey back, added offensive tackle Ryan Harris, a free agent from the Denver Broncos, and Alejandro Villanueva has valuable experience starting at left tackle last year. Combine that with Foster, Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro, Cody Wallace and more and it's the makings of something very special.
"I have seen the growth since I first came here," said Foster. "Some guys were thrown into the fire, but with that came experience. To see everyone in their own zone straight down the line, it's fun to see that growth and experience come.
"Getting Pouncey back, he is just solid. He brings a tenacity, energy. You can throw all kinds of adjectives out there for that guy and it all makes sense. He loves the game. He has a tenacity about getting back and being the best center in the game."
The same type of tenacity Foster has about being the best guard in the game. * *
"I always tell people I am not the best athlete, but there are not many people who are going to be mentally stronger or work harder than I do," said Foster. "That is one of the things I bring to this offensive line. It's been a journey for me and I enjoy it a lot."
A journey that could have taken a different turn this offseason. Foster was an unrestricted free agent and admits his agent got a feel for what was out there, but in his heart he wanted to remain with the Steelers. And that is what happened when he signed a three-year deal in March.
"Pittsburgh is right for me. I enjoy being here," said Foster. "It's a family. That working relationship you have with the guys is special. They are your friends. You see them more than your family. Everybody working and having fun together is what makes this sport special."