Preseason Focus: Linebackers

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Foster has been the hot topic lately

Now that Barrett Ruud is officially no longer a Buccaneer, who will replace Tampa’s leading tackler?  This has been one of the most intriguing topics leading up to the start of the season.  The Buccaneers wisely spent their 3rd round draft pick on Washington Huskies linebacker, Mason Foster.  Last year, Foster was second in the nation with 163 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 3 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 blocked kick.  Foster is the answer to all the questions the coaching staff had with Ruud.  Ruud was a reliable play caller, and sound tackler, however, the coaches wanted Ruud to be more of a fiery, vocal leader.  They also wanted Ruud to improve on shedding blocks and stopping a ball carrier in his tracks.  Instead, Ruud struggled with tackling and was often dragged for several yards, sometimes past the first down marker, before bringing the ball carrier down.  Foster was drafted to bring those exact elements to their defense.  He was a leader atWashington, played very instinctive, and did great at shedding blocks.  In training camp, he worked his way up to practice with the starters, and has shown good awareness, coverage and understanding of his expectations.  There has been some hint towards Foster being the leading candidate to start at middle linebacker, but another young star has been making a case for himself, as well.

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