When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the bold decision to let MLB Barrett Ruud go in free agency and replace him with rookie third-round draft pick Mason Foster, they hoped Foster would give them a few more splash plays.
With three games left in his initial NFL season, Foster has a chance to do just that.
Foster is arguably having the best season by a rookie defender in the league this year. With a few more splash plays, he could surpass Ruud's output, as well.
Ruud produced six tackles for a loss, two sacks, three quarterback pressures, one interception and two forced fumbles last season. Foster has already matched some of those numbers and is closing in on the rest.
Through 13 games, Foster has three tackles for a loss, two sacks, four quarterback pressures, one sack and a forced fumble.
"You really have to give a guy like Mason credit for what he's done,'' Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "This is a kid who's been put in a man's role and he's done an exceptional job.
"He's in there every week now calling the defenses and changing defenses and he's really become the quarterback there. I don't know of any (middle) linebacker in our system that's come in and done that as well he's done it.''
As his stats indicate, Foster isn't just calling plays, he's making them. His team-leading 99 tackles are the second-most by a rookie in franchise history behind only Hugh Green, who had 151 in 1981.
Should he stay or should he go?
A Yahoo Sports story, citing an anonymous team source, suggested general manager Mark Dominik planned to cut CB Aqib Talib after his involvement in a shooting in Texas in March, but Morris talked him out of it.
Morris said Wednesday such decisions are always group decisions.
"All decisions are made between myself, Mark Dominik and (the Glazers),'' Morris said, when asked about the report. "That's usually the process that we take. There's usually going to be a common ground between us.''
Ex-Buc Moore joins prep coaching ranks
Former Bucs tight end Dave Moore is the new head football coach at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, the school announced Wednesday.
Moore played 12 of his 15 NFL season for the Bucs. He retired after the 2006 season and is the team's radio analyst.
Moore has two children who attend Shorecrest Prep.
Shorecrest athletic director Tripp Welborne, a former Minnesota Vikings player, introduced Moore on Wednesday.
"For over a decade and a half, Dave has had a profound impact on the football community in the Tampa Bay area, and we are very excited and fortunate that he is passionate about touching our student's lives every day as a coach and mentor," Welborne said in a statement.
The chances of Talib returning to the lineup for this week's game against Dallas improved yet again Wednesday when Talib was full-go at practice for the second time in as many days. Talib missed last week's game at Jacksonville with a hamstring injury he aggravated early in the loss to Carolina the week before.
WR Arrelious Benn missed Wednesday's workout because of a concussion sustained against the Jaguars, along with DT Albert Haynesworth (knee), DT Brian Price (ankle) and DE Michael Bennett (toe). WR Sammie Stroughter (knee) was limited.
FB Earnest Graham was a visitor to the Bucs locker room on Wednesday. Graham, on injured reserve since rupturing his right Achilles' tendon against Chicago in London, wore a walking boot, but said he should be back to work by May. … Cowboys QB Tony Romo is 7-12 as a starter in December. … Bucs QB Josh Freeman needs 104 passing yards to reach the 3,000-mark for the second time in as many seasons. … The Bucs are 6-2 in games in which RB LeGarrette Blount has 19 or more carries.