Versatile Foster is up for whatever with Patriots


Versatile Foster is up for whatever with Patriots

FOXBORO – We mocked up running backs for weeks, then the Patriots made a mockery of the mocks and passed on all of them.

Except for D.J. Foster. The hybrid running back/wide receiver from Arizona State was snagged as an undrafted free agent on Saturday evening of the NFL draft. The phone call in which Foster told his grandmother where he would play pro football was recorded on camera and served as an emotional slice of reality TV.

“I forgot I was mic'd up at the time,” Foster told media on Wednesday at Gillette Stadium as the Patriots offensive rookies were introduced. “I walked around to the back alley and I heard my grandma’s voice and I kind of broke down. Throughout my whole life, this is a dream a lot of us have and to be able to get to that point and talk to Coach (Bill) Belichick and understand where my future is and go to the next level. That was an exciting moment for me and my family.”

Foster said he didn’t sweat the process, despite the uncertainty that looms when 250-plus players came off the board without his name being called.

“I went through the whole process with open arms and took it day by day,” he said. “I had a lot of family support around me and I knew how this process was gonna go. Some guys have an idea, some guys like me, you don’t know where you could fall but I’m so happy where I ended up. I’m here now and part of this organization and I’m very excited to go forth with that.

“I had about five minutes (to make the decision),” said Foster. “This organization speaks for itself. For me, growing up, hearing about this organization, talking to (Belichick), I just loved his message to me and I was excited to join. It just felt like the right place for me and the place that I wanted to be. I was talking to a few teams but when I talked to Coach Belichick, I took a step back, talked to my family and figured out what’s right for me in my life as a young adult so I felt like it was the best decision for me and I’m so happy to be here.”

Foster isn’t very big – 5-10, 193 pounds. But he’s waterbug quick. His three-cone time at the Combine was fourth among wideouts (6.75 seconds) and first among running backs. His 20-yard shuttle time (4.07) was first (tied with Braxton Miller). He had the fourth-fastest 60-yard shuttle (11.12).

By comparison, James White’s three-cone was 7.05. Julian Edelman’s was 6.62.  

Foster was a pass-catching running back for three seasons at Arizona State before making a conversion to being predominantly a pass-catcher. He had 222 receptions in four seasons with the Sun Devils. After carrying 194 times as a junior, he ran it just 55 his final season.

Where do the Patriots have him slotted?

“We haven’t really talked about that,” said Foster. “Right now, I’m working with Coach (Ivan) Fears and the running back group. Right now, I’m learning about the organization, the culture of this organization and just learning my teammates.”

The Patriots will likely try to develop foundational knowledge at both spots for Foster. They know he can catch. How well does he read defenses and blocking assignments? Can he compete in blitz pickup? Can he run with any power between the tackles? If the Patriots get affirmative answers there, they can create a two-way player.

“Moving to receiver helped me to broaden my view and perspective of the game,” said Foster. “I learned a lot as a receiver. I learned a lot being in the receiving room. Understanding defenses better as a receiver and it overall helps me as a running back. I definitely think it benefited me in the long run. I have some diversity. I bring two different things to the game. I’m just going to be a tough guy that can come here and is ready to play what they want me to play, special teams, whatever they want.”

Martellus Bennett: NFL players just want to smoke weed and play video games

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Martellus Bennett: NFL players just want to smoke weed and play video games

Martelllus Bennett was released by the Patriots earlier this month after reappearing for a two-game cameo following his controversial exit from Green Bay last season.

As he ponders whether to play again, it's probably to safe to guess what he's been spending his time doing. It's what he says all NFL players want to do in the offseason. 

The outspoken tight end talked about the goals of every NFL player in an interview with Complex's "Out of Bounds". 

"You hand the guy a book and they're like...get that thing away from me!" Bennett said, laughing as he fumbled a book. "That thing is the devil. A book? That's the devil!"

Change to pass-interference rule is WAY overdue

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Change to pass-interference rule is WAY overdue

Yes, please, on the proposed adjustment to defensive pass interference. No, thank you on the revised catch rule.

And I know I'm going to have my dreams crushed on both counts.

Despite all the arm-flapping and breath wasted that "NOBODY KNOWS WHAT A CATCH IS ANYMORE!!!!", long-distance pass interference has been a bigger bugaboo for the league for a much longer time.

In 2017, there were 129 pass interference calls longer than 15 yards. The proposed rule change that will be debated at next week's NFL Annual Meeting will make pass interference a 15-yard penalty unless it's egregious and intentional. In those cases, it will continue to be a spot foul

So overdue. For too long offenses have been rewarded by officials on 50-50 balls where DBs and receivers engage in subtle handfighting. It's absolutely illogical to expect middle-aged officials in okay (or worse) shape to keep pace with Gronk-sized receivers and whippet-quick defenders, then make calls on plays 40 yards downfield.

If you're going to throw a flag that gives the offense 40 yards, there should be an extreme degree of certainty accompanies that flag. And too often, the officials are forced to make educated guesses. Next thing you know, Joe Flacco and Rex Grossman are in the Super Bowl.

It's probably the most difficult penalty to call in football, yet it carries the greatest punishment for a defense? What sense does that make? 

I actually think the NFL should go a step beyond and make pass interference reviewable. I'll even make this concession -- it's reviewable only for DPI that puts the ball inside the 10 and is longer than 15 yards. How's that?

"More reviews?!?!? We don't need more reviews?!?!?!"

Okay, but you'll accept them when a dimwit coach argues a spot on a three-yard run that may or may not mean a first down, but not on a play that hands the offense half the field? Come on. Forward thinking.

As for the contention corners are going to begin bludgeoning receivers once they realize they're being beaten deep -- BAM! -- that's where you get the aggravated pass interference (API . . . trademarked 2018) that can be dropped on their heads.

A DB that doesn't turn to face the ball and runs through a receiver? An arm bar all the way downfield preventing a receiver from getting his hands up? A way-too-early arrival? That's API and it's a spot foul. What are the possible negative consequences?

It will now spawn debate as to what's aggravated PI and just garden variety PI. And it asks officials to make another judgment call.

But the truth is, it already is -- in many cases -- a judgment call. And if I were an official reaching for my flag on a Hail Mary from the 43 at the end of the game where there was jostling, I'd sure as hell be happy that I have the option to call garden variety PI and put the ball at the 28 rather than put the ball at the 1.

It's a rule change that makes the game better. That way you don't have calls like this or this. This 55-yarder would be an API (defender hugs Crabtree).

Tellingly, there's no outcry about the need to reform pass interference NOW like there is about the catch rule. You know what needs to happen? A few more plays like this where the Patriots profit. Then you'll see a damn MOVEMENT!