Unless they have a sudden change of heart and bring in a veteran from outside, it looks as if the Buccaneers will go with Mason Foster as their starting middle linebacker.
Although Tyrone McKenzie, who had appeared in just three NFL games since being drafted by the New England Patriots, had been working with the first-team defense early in camp, Foster went through Saturday morning’s walkthrough with the starters.
Since that walkthrough was a preparatory course for tonight’s workout at Raymond James Stadium, it’s likely Foster will work with the first team tonight in a padded practice that’s expected to include some goal-line work.
"He's doing well," coach Raheem Morris said. “It's hard to say the job is his and you've got to go through the bullets. You've got to go through the games, you've got to go out there and prove yourself. But you want to give him an opportunity to win it. He's doing a nice job of picking everything up and competing.’’
I like Tampa Bay’s youth movement and think it’s working quite well. I also like the fact that the Bucs, who sometimes care way too much about what other people think about them, have not caved in to public pressure. They're sticking to the youth movement and not going wild in free agency.
But the flip side of this one is that I think it’s risky to insert a rookie at middle linebacker when you have such a young front seven. Foster may turn out to be a fine player, but he was a third-round draft pick and it’s a lot to ask him to go out there and be the quarterback of the defense right from the start.