Larry Foote didn't see it coming.
The cap-strapped and aging Steelers made the decision to release the veteran for some weight of both of those reasons. Foote spoke to 93.7 The Fan Wednesday, and suggested his surprise in being released stemmed from the notion the Steelers weren't able to line up properly - thus providing some value to a veteran player at a linebacker position.
"My agent met with (the Steelers) down at the Combine in Indianapolis. The talk was that we couldn’t get lined up, we lost a few games early on because we couldn’t even get lined up," Foote said on the air. "My agent shared that with me, so I just assumed I was coming back. So, I was a little caught off guard when (my agent) called me and told me they were going to release me."
Even a casual observer could see the Steelers' defense struggled quite a bit in the early-goings of 2013. Some of that may have been influenced by the lack of Foote on the field, as well as the presence of rookie Vince Williams.
But those issues are separate. Work clearly needs to be done on the defensive side of the ball, and awareness among personnel is a more viable option than the inclusion of other personnel.
The Steelers selected LB Ryan Shazier with the 15th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. It would go without saying a huge part of determining whether Shazier can get on the field immediately - he's projected to start - and make an impact is whether he learns the defense enough to justify him being out there.
Foote, who signed with the Cardinals after the Steelers released him, is no longer an option, but he does provide an interesting look inside the opinion of the organization during a horrendous 0-4 start. Shazier, or whomever will be starting opposite Lawrence Timmons, will need to be able to direct the defense, up to and including the small but critical task of making sure every player is where he's supposed to be.