O-Line Looking To Get Nasty

Ramon Foster (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Ramon Foster is sworn to uphold the tradition of the rough-and-tumble Steelers linemen before him.

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger met with his offensive line before the last game. Mike Tomlin met with one of the linemen -- Ramon Foster -- after the game.

"He's committed to leading that group through these tough times," Tomlin said.

Did he give Foster a "C" for his jersey?

"Huh?!" Foster said, bewildered that another change might've taken place with the 0-3 Steelers.

Of course, the veteran left guard wasn't named captain in place of injured captain Maurkice Pouncey, but he's acting like one.

"When I came here," Foster said, "those guys were raised under (Alan) Faneca and Marvel (Smith) and guys like that. They were mean guys. Before Willie (Colon) left, Willie said, 'The room is how it is when I got here. Keep it that way no matter what.' So that's my obligation to him, the guys before me. Even after I'm gone, it should be known the Pittsburgh Steelers are a dirty, nasty line -- within the rules. I think we got a little bit away with that with certain stuff but we've got to re-establish it. We can't just put on our pads no more.

"That's what I met with (Tomlin) about and got to an understanding of how I'm going to push certain guys and how I'm going to play. It was more of me assuring him we were going to be good in that fact. We've been called out way too much already. It's all about getting it done at this point, and I'm letting him know the certain way that I'm going to lead, and he's OK with that."

Foster didn't want to get into details, other than to say his linemates aren't playing as fast as they can -- or will -- play when they gain needed experience and thus confidence.

"That's the thing," Foster said. "When you lose you kind of don't want to do anything that will cause you to lose by getting a 15-yard penalty. Winning will change that and I think we've got the guys with the mentality that are able to do that, too, and push the guys the way they need to be pushed and get a win overseas, and then come back and keep stacking them."

One way Tomlin tried to get the young tackles -- Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert -- to respond was by rotating back-up Kelvin Beachum into the line for a couples series on each side. Adams said the team knew the rotation was in the game plan. Gilbert said he hopes it never is again.

"It kind of lights a fire up underneath you," Gilbert said. "Obviously it's not something I was too happy about, but as long as I'm improving and we're getting better, that's all that matters."

Gilbert doesn't expect the rotation to continue this week in London, where the Steelers play the 0-3 Minnesota Vikings. But he does expect to add some "nasty" to his game.

"We're trying to be so perfect, assignment-wise, that we're not going out there and being as aggressive as you can," he said. "I don't think that we're playing at a fast, or high, level, 100-percent full speed that we're capable of. I think we just have to forget about that and go out there and play football, get back to what we're used to doing, especially here.

"It's always been known for years that Pitsburgh Steelers offensive linemen are nasty, a good-running football team. We have to get back to those days, just to prove it. We got better last week and we're going to get better this week and get this win."

Another problem, Gilbert admitted, has been the communication since Pouncey went down.

"Sometimes we did; sometimes we just didn't put it all together," Gilbert said. "It'll get better this week."

NOTES -- Cornerback Cortez Allen returned to practice after missing two games with an ankle injury and said William Gay moved back inside to the nickel cornerback spot. ... Defensive end Brett Keisel (hamstring) missed Wednesday's practice but expects to play Sunday.

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