Larry Foote does not know quite what to do with himself, and it has nothing to do with Mike Tomlin banning table games in the locker room, where Foote often held court with his pool cue.
"It's been 23 years since I've not played fall football," Foote said.
That streak ended Sept. 8 when he left the opener with a torn biceps. He had surgery and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. He will have missed 15 games this season. Since arriving as a fourth-round draft choice from Michigan in 2002, Foote missed two games as a rookie and not another until 2009, when he missed two while playing one season for the Detroit Lions. He returned to the Steelers and had played in every game but one, that in 2011.
So, it's taken Foote a little adjustment to his life of leisure.
"I've seen it all around me so when it happened I had to man up and take it," Foote said of seeing injured teammates through the years. "But, just knowing the responsibility and my defensive guys counting on me, I kind of felt I let them down. It's just the adjustment everyone has to go through from a mental standpoint. Everybody had to step it up.
"You know we've been blessed around here as far as me and James Farrior lining things up, orchestrating everything. So when I went down, Lawrence Timmons ... had to go into action, lining guys up, communicating."
The team's run defense has been horrible without him, sinking to No. 22 in the NFL in yards allowed. The Steelers are on their second linebacker to replace him inside, rookie Vince Williams.
"Vince is stepping up," Foote said.
If he steps up too much, or if Sean Spence overcomes his knee injury and returns to the form of his rookie summer of 2012, that could doom Foote for 2014. He wants to return at age 34 for his 13th NFL season.
"That's the name of the game,'' said Foote, who attends all the meetings with his teammates as he rehabs. "I'll do all my part to help him get better. I won't hold out any info. God will take care of that."
First Published October 19, 2013 8:00 PM