Linebacker Larry Foote celebrates at the end of the Cardinals' season-opening win against the Chargers Monday night.
In 2010, the Cardinals tried to sign Larry Foote. In 2013, the Cardinals tried to sign Larry Foote.
The chase finally ended this offseason, although the veteran linebacker shrugs off the chase.
"I think in this league, with former coaches you have experience with, they like to bring you in, especially when you need some help," Foote said. "We've got a relationship. I think it's more by default."
There is little doubt that Foote's long stint in Pittsburgh, where Bruce Arians once coached as did ex-Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, impacted the Cardinals' interest. But consider where the team might be had he not shown up this spring, with Karlos Dansby already departed as a free agent but three weeks before Daryl Washington was lost to a year-long suspension.
It was Foote who had a team-high eight tackles, including a couple for loss, against the Chargers Monday night. It was Foote who joined
defensive backs Rashad Johnson and Patrick Peterson as the only Cardinals to play all 61 defensive snaps and Foote who knocked down the final fourth-down pass for San Diego to help clinch the victory.
The Cardinals would be hurting without Larry Foote.
"I don't know about that," Foote said, chuckling. "I don't know about that."
The stabilizing influence he has provided, on the field and in the locker room, is undeniable as the defense has taken one hit after another – the latest being linebacker John Abraham's leave from the team and possible retirement.
"He's a warrior," defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. "You don't see all the bells and whistles because of the speed and athleticism you hear about the other two (Dansby and Washington) which were well warranted, but Larry had played 13 years in this league. He's not a scrub."
He is, however, 34, and coming off a ruptured biceps muscle that ended his season after just one game in 2013. That he could not stand, and he never once considered not coming back. The injury happened on a missed tackle, and that burned Foote throughout the offseason (aided by the fact Foote's uncle kept reminding him that was his final play.)
Besides, he wanted to play for a winner, so when Arians dialed him up, Foote finally answered the Cardinals' call.
"I wanted to finish on a high note, not a down note," Foote said, adding "I'm just bridging the gap."
Jonathan Dwyer can see Foote's impact. Dwyer, the running back, played with Foote in Pittsburgh and his locker is directly across from
Foote's. Dwyer watches the interaction and sees how Foote mentors players like Kevin Minter, Sam Acho and Kenny Demens.
There couldn't be a better role model, Dwyer said.
"He played a long time and knows a lot of things," Dwyer said. "In the locker room he's a character. Always going to make you laugh. He's a good all-around person. Nothing I can say bad about him, except he likes to argue. If he's wrong, he'll still argue with you and try to prove his point like he knows what he's talking about."
Dwyer smiled. Like the rest of the Cardinals, he knows Foote has already made an impact. During Monday night's game, Dwyer found Foote on the sideline and told him, "That's the young Foote out there, the Foote with the cornrows at (the University of) Michigan."
"He was playing lights out," Dwyer said.
Foote shrugs off his first game. The job is about making those plays, he said. He's supposed to make the right calls, supposed to see what's going to happen pre-snap and line up his teammates.
"I am a true believer in this game," Foote said. "You lose by missed assignments and missed tackles. It ain't always the fastest or biggest guy, it's who is smartest out there. Coaches feel comfortable with players like that."
That's why Foote didn't really pay much heed to all the calls and congratulatory texts he received after his big game Monday. No one had seen him play in a year. Besides, Foote figures, he was often unblocked in Bowles' scheme, thanks to defensive line play up front, and he is supposed to make plays when that happens.
"It's one game," Foote said. "If it's January and we have T-shirts on, I'll be praising myself a little. Right now, it don't mean nothing."
ELLINGTON REMAINS GAME-DAY DECISION
Running back Andre Ellington (foot) was upgraded to limited in practice Friday but he is officially questionable and Arians said he was a game-day decision like last week. Arians also said Ellington will probably follow the same plan again next week going into the San Francisco game.
Ellington said he believes he will play.
"Sunday is game day so I'll be ready," Ellington said. "The adrenaline will be flowing. I'll be good to go."
Quarterback Carson Palmer (right shoulder) is also questionable, but Arians expressed confidence Palmer will be fine to play, noting last season's performance against the Rams at home. That week, Palmer didn't throw a pass all week in practice with a bad elbow, and then had his best game of the season.
Also questionable is punter Dave Zastudil. Drew Butler remains on the roster as an alternative. Safety Tyrann Mathieu is listed as probable for the first time since his ACL/LCL tear last December.
For the Giants, punter Steve Weatherford (ankle) is questionable, while receiver Odell Beckham (hamstring), tackle James Brewer (back), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (ankle) are out.