PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Steelers released starting inside linebacker Larry Foote on Monday, a move expected since Foote asked to be traded or cut.
Foote started every Steelers game for five seasons, including their Super Bowl victories last season and after the 2005 season.
Still, he was unhappy with coming off the field on passing downs for Lawrence Timmons, a 2007 first-round draft pick.
With Timmons ready to start, Foote told the Steelers last week he wanted to be traded or released. The Steelers cut him after failing to find a team willing to deal a draft pick for him.
Foote was due to make $2.885 million in the final season of his contract, but the Steelers no longer owe him the money.
“Larry has been a big part of our success but, unfortunately, the realities of the salary cap made this decision inevitable,” Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We wish Larry and his family nothing but the best as he moves forward with his career.”
Foote, a fourth-round draft pick in 2002, had three interceptions and 14 1/2 sacks in seven seasons with Pittsburgh.
Ravens sign QB Beck
BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Ravens have signed quarterback John Beck, who will seek to revive his NFL career after being released by the Miami Dolphins.
Beck, who signed a one-year contract Baltimore announced Monday, played five games in two seasons with Miami. Drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft, Beck went 0-4 as a rookie starter under Cam Cameron, now Baltimore’s offensive coordinator.
The quarterback did not play in 2008 under new coach Tony Sparano.
Venus Williams advances
ROME – Venus Williams needed three sets to win her opening match at the Italian Open on Monday, beating Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
“I was OK with the match being a little longer,” Williams said. “I just I want to hit balls. In a way it’s not too bad to go three sets. ”
She appeared to take control of the clay-court match in the first set, firing eight aces and as many winners in 28 minutes.
The American’s service levels dropped, though, and Safarova started playing her powerful groundstrokes deeper in the second set. Williams was broken in the third game and was unable to break back with Safarova serving out to win the set.
In the deciding set, the fourth-seeded Williams held serve in a crucial third game after saving four break points. She went on to break in the following game, as a forehand by the 22-year-old Czech went wide, and then again to close out the match.
Both players had 22 winners, but Safarova had 33 unforced errors, seven more than Williams.
“We both played aggressive,” Williams said. “She’s just going for every shot, for the lines.”