It is funny how things work sometimes in the NFL.
For instance, take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have an undrafted guard named B.J. Finney who has filled in during any absences on the interior offensive line, and who many view as the next starting guard for the black-and-gold.
Then you have Ramon Foster, another undrafted guard who has been one of the most reliable starters along the line in his time with the team. It just so happens Foster is in the final year of his current contract, and many consider Finney to be the next man up to take over after the 2018 season.
Foster dodged a major bullet when he went down with a hyper-extended knee on the first padded practice of camp. There was no ligament damage, and Foster is expected to be out just 4 weeks, compared to a season-ending knee injury, but during this time Finney will get an extended showing with the starting offensive line.
This isn’t to suggest Finney hasn’t had any experience as a starter, but his sample size is very small. Regardless of overall experience, Finney isn’t one to lack confidence in his abilities.
“I know that I can play at this level, and I can do a good job filling in when I have to fill in,” Finney told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “So I’m not worried about my mentality in the slightest.”
When it comes to confidence, Finney has plenty in himself, but his teammates also echo this sentiment.
“B.J.’s got experience, which is key in this league, to say you’ve done it,” starting right guard David DeCastro said. “He’s played some big snaps for us, so that’s key. So he will be a placeholder for Ramon while he’s gone.”
What motivates Finney? He doesn’t want the offensive line to suffer, or struggle, with him filling in.
“For me, it’s my mentality that I don’t want the other guys to suffer from me coming in,” Finney said. “So my mentality is to always make sure I’m not going to … bring everybody down or hold anybody up.”
While Finney might not be the athlete DeCastro or Maurkice Pouncey are, he understands what is expected of him. To play hard, and be consistent.
“Tough and smart would describe me, yes, I would hope so,” Finney added. “I’m not the best athlete, and I know that.”
“One thing I was told from guys from my school is just always be consistent,” Finney said. “Be Mr. Consistency, and that will keep you around a long time. (Coaches) don’t want guys that go up and down, up and down like on a roller coaster ride. They want the same guy every day, every block, every play. That’s what I take pride in trying to do.”
Whether Finney is the next starting guard after this season is irrelevant, but what fans, and the team, should realize is how confident the team should be with Finney as the top backup for Foster, or any other interior lineman, in the short-term.