LB Mason Foster ready to play anywhere for Bucs

Jul 18, 2011, 5:35 PM | Updated: 5:52 pm staff

Leading up to April’s NFL draft, the term “versatile” seemed to accompany every analyst’s assessment of former Husky linebacker Mason Foster.

Apparently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers thought the same thing.

Foster, a third-round pick by Tampa Bay, joined the Kevin Calabro Show on Monday and said the Bucs have told him he could be playing any of the three linebacker positions.

As a senior for the Huskies last season, linebacker Mason Foster was second in the country with 163 tackles. (AP)

“We talked briefly,” Foster said of the window in the NFL’s lockout during which players and teams were allowed to communicate. “I was just getting to know the coaches and all the people around. But for the most part they wanted me to come in and learn Mike [middle linebacker] because you learn Mike and it makes the other positions easier.

“But for the most part they like my versatility, and the way I play … the motor I play with, play hard every snap, and the way I played at the Senior Bowl and also the way I practice and fly around.”

Where Foster plays — and how soon he sees the field — could depend on the contract situations of a pair Bucs linebackers. Barrett Ruud, the team’s leading tackler the past four seasons, could leave via free agency. So could Quincy Black, who started 23 games over the past two seasons for Tampa Bay.

Foster played all three linebacker spots at Washington, moving to outside for his senior season. He finished that season with 163 tackles, second-most in the country, and was named MVP of the Huskies’ win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl after making 12 tackles and two sacks.

Some more notes from Foster’s interview:

Foster gave a glimpse into what life is like for an NFL player during the offseason. He’s sticking around the UW and spends most of his day working out.

“I still workout at the school with coach Ivan Lewis and the Huskies,” Foster said. “I get up every day, me and [former UW safety] Nate Williams get up early and participate in their workouts.”

He also said that despite the lockout, he has had a chance to meet some of his coaches and teammates.

“I went down a couple weeks ago to Bradenton, Fla. [Quarterback] Josh Freeman put on a three-day mini camp down there so I went to the rookie symposium and did the mini camp at the same time. I got a chance to meet the guys — all really good guys — a lot of guys showed up for this mini camp. It was just a great time meeting them, getting to run some plays, getting to workout with the other linebackers and I had a lot of fun.”

Foster agreed that not having a typical offseason to get adjusted to life in the NFL puts him at a disadvantage, but believes he has what it takes to get through it.

“I feel like it’s definitely going to set all rookies back,” Foster said. “Not having the opportunity to get down there and work with your team, work with the coaches and get into the playbook. It’s definitely going to be tough but at the same time I feel like I’m up for it. I’m a pretty quick learner. I love football so I’m just going to come in and play as hard as I can, work as hard as I can to get through this playbook and understand everything.”

The Huskies’ linebacker unit will look very different in the fall. Not only do the Huskies lose Foster, but also Victor Aiyewa, who led the conference in tackles for loss. While Foster acknowledged that the group won’t have the same caliber of stars next year, he thinks that a “by committee” approach will work well for the UW.

“I was up there with them earlier; they’re working really hard, watching films, doing extra things here and there throughout the offseason. I feel like you’re going to see every linebacker play,” he said. “It’s not going to be just one guy who’s going to step in and fill the shoes of losing me and Victor Aiyewa.”

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LB Mason Foster ready to play anywhere for Bucs