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Thursday is a Homecoming of sorts for Steelers right guard Ramon Foster

Nashville is 176 miles from his home town of Ripley, Tenn., but Foster has been hanging his hat on replacing injured starters in his four-year career. He's done it so well, he may not be around Pittsburgh next season.

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

It's a watershed game of sorts for Steelers right guard Ramon Foster.

Coming off his best performance of the season in the Steelers' 16-14 win over Philadelphia in Week 5, Foster has to feel confident heading into Week 6.

It's more than that, though.

Foster was demoted through the draft of Stanford's David DeCastro in April. As quickly as he arrived, he was forgotten by SteelerNation. A guy who's filled in steadily for the team since signing him as an undrafted free agent in 2009, he's in for DeCastro now. He'll likely be back to the bench at some point after DeCastro is removed from injured-reserve, playing out his restricted free agency contract, and wading into the free agency market after this season.

But he has Thursday to leave his mark. Playing in Nashville - 176 miles from his hometown of Ripley, Tenn. - Foster and the rest of the interior of the offensive line has ample opportunity to leave its mark all over Tennessee's defense. Playing in front of family and friends, Foster has an advantage over a few of the younger defensive linemen rotating in and out of Tennessee's front.

And he's got a chance to earn a long-term contract, whether in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.

Maybe even the Titans.

He'll be a difficult player for the Steelers to let go, even if he won't be slated to start, barring injury. Depth along its offensive line hasn't been a luxury for Pittsburgh, it's been a requirement. Injuries have stacked up across all five positions, and oddly, Foster, the back-up, logged more snaps than every other Steelers offensive lineman in 2011.

Then came DeCastro. And he left with injury, leaving Foster answering the call again.

If Foster performs like he did against Philadelphia, the Steelers will need to find another back-up to fill in for injured starters in 2013.

We highlighted the offensive line in our film review earlier, but to show it again, watching Foster drive Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks back seven yards is worth watching again.

And it will be worth watching him Thursday in front of his home crowd.