Last season, as a rookie starter at middle linebacker, Mason Foster led the Buccaneers with 126 tackles. This year, he’s working his way into the league leaders in that category. Foster’s 24 solo tackles through three games (as compiled through official press box stats) are tied for second among all players. Arizona’s Daryl Washington leads the way with 26 and Foster is knotted with Tennessee’s Akeem Ayers and St. Louis’ James Laurinaitis just behind.
Foster had a strong opening to his rookie campaign a year ago but saw his impact fade down the stretch as the Bucs’ defense as a whole ran into an extended rough patch. This year, the former third-round pick out of Washington appears to have found more of a comfort zone in the team’s new defense under Head Coach Greg Schiano and Coordinator Bill Sheridan. Foster’s seven tackles for loss lead both the Buccaneers and the NFL, and he also owns one of the team’s six interceptions.
Sheridan has been thrilled with Foster’s progress.
“I think he has done a great job,” said the Bucs’ coordinator on Wednesday. “The bottom line is, when you look at the film the day after the game he is in on the tackles. That is really what you are looking for from a linebacker. He’s really instinctive. He can diagnose and fit up the runs like you would hope your MIKE linebacker would. He’s got tackle stats to show for it. He know this, we talked about it the other day – he is a developing player who is only going to get better. He really likes playing, so it’s not something that you have to push him to do. He has a lot of pride and he’s played well. His best football is definitely in front of him.”