Mason Foster Evolving Into An Elite MLBSeptember 28th, 2012
Last year if Joe told you that the Bucs, after three weeks, would have the best rush defense in the NFL, you likely would have told Joe to put down his Bushmills and go to bed.
But it’s true (no, Joe hasn’t put away the Bushmills). A defense that couldn’t slow a cool breeze, an insulting element of the nauseating 10-game losing streak, is no more.
The Bucs actually are a tough cookie to crumble on the ground this year. One resason is, yes, Gerald McCoy is healthy. Another reason for the upswing is the play of Mason Foster.
The Bucs middle linebacker simply was overwhelmed last year as a rookie. With no offseason training and a shortened training camp, Foster looked lost moving from outside linebacker to the middle. Now, with the benefit of an offseason and — dare Joe say? — coaching, Foster is blossoming into a true NFL force.
Foster credits his improvement largely to two simple words: hard work.
“I feel like I am playing well but I think I can play better,” Foster said. “Even though I am getting better each and every day, I’m working hard, working with the older guys like Quincy [Black] and Adam Hayward, trying to get a better grasp of the whole game. I listen to the coaches and the offseason helped me a lot being able to come in and prepare both mentally and physically.
“I am just trying to keep getting better, keep working. When you practice as hard as we practice and work as hard as we work, study day in and day out, do everything you can possible do to improve, yeah, you get confident. Once you get confident you help the linemen and the linebackers by being prepared.”
It isn’t just Joe’s eyes that tell him Foster is playing well. So do statistics. The numbers crunchers at ProFootballFocus.com have Foster ranked No. 1 in the NFL for what the think-tank calls “run stop percentage.” Foster leads the Bucs in solo tackles with 23. He also has an interception.
Yes, imagine what an offseason can do, along with a year’s experience in the NFL. Foster is walking proof.