As a former Michigan star, Steelers linebacker Larry Foote has seen his share of football rivalries.…
Ryan Lilja versus Larry Foote
Pulling and second level quickness are Lilja's greatest assets -- just ask New England's Tedy Bruschi. When the Colts played at New England in Week 9, Lilja was successfully invading the second level, getting his hands on Bruschi, sealing him off and thus creating bigger holes for Edgerrin James.
Can Lilja have this same success against Larry Foote? Ryan Lilja is a short, pudgy offensive lineman with a square build. Ryan has good initial and lateral quickness. He gets off the ball very well and shows the ability to adjust on the move. This ability to adjust will prove vital on Monday, because RILB Larry Foote's quickness makes him difficult to track down.
Foote has played so well in Kendrell Bell's place (Bell signed with the Chiefs in free agency), Steeler fans are asking, " Kendrell who?" this season. Foote has good speed, takes smart angles to the ball, and rarely runs himself out of position in run defense. He lacks ideal bulk needed to take on blocks, so he relies on his quick instincts to beat blockers to spots. So Lilja's second-level quickness will be tested against him.
Foote is not very big or physical, so he will struggle at times when defending the run right at him. So I fully expect Peyton Manning and offensive coordinator Tom Moore to call several runs in Foote's direction early in the game. The keys to success for these runs hinge on two things; Lilja's ability to free himself from Pittsburgh's space-consuming defensive front so that he can get up-field, and him locating and actually getting his hands on the speedy Foote.
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