Real injury, or veteran day off?
It's a valid question surrounding Steelers LB Larry Foote, and as Steel City Insider's Jim Wexell suggests, it brings up a larger issue.
Foote, listed as having an ailing ankle on Wednesday's injury report, is the unquestioned starter at the buck linebacker position. It seems like there are nothing but questions behind him. Veteran Brandon Johnson would get the nod in Week 1 if Foote is unable to play, and Johnson has been with the team for merely a few weeks. He was also listed as an outside linebacker when he originally arrived.
Injuries have depleted the Steelers' linebacker depth, and while Johnson wouldn't be ideal, there really wouldn't be an option after him.
With all that being said, Foote could simply be taking the Wednesday off afforded to many veteran players of the past.
Per a Chris Adamski report via Twitter, Foote is confident he'll play Sunday.
Larry Foote, who did not practice Wednesday (listed as ankle injury), said Thursday:"I'm not gonna be limited (vs. Den). I'm gonna be 100%."— Chris Adamski (@BuzzsawPGH) September 6, 2012
Former buck linebacker, James Farrior, usually sat on Wednesdays, as did other former players like Hines Ward and Aaron Smith. While it could simply be a combination of giving a veteran a day off as well as Foote needing a day to rest his ankle, it is worthy of mentioning the veterans who took Wednesdays off during the season did not have a specific injury listed, the way Foote did.
LB Stevenson Sylvester, who would be the primary buck back-up, has been ruled out Week 1 as he recovers from a knee injury suffered during the preseason. The Steelers will be perilously thin at both inside linebacker positions until his return.
In the meantime, Johnson should take full advantage, and learn absolutely everything there is to learn about both positions. He may be called on before too long.