Clayborn, Foster are bright spots for Bucs

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
7:26
AM ET
As hard as it may be to believe, there actually have been a couple of bright spots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.

Those are rookie defensive end Adrian Clayborn and rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster. Clayborn was a first-round pick and Foster was a third-round choice.

Let’s start with Clayborn. He leads the team with 7.5 sacks. That’s the second-most ever by a rookie in franchise history. The record (10 sacks) was set by Santana Dotson in 1992. Clayborn already has 2.5 more sacks than Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon had in his rookie season, 1976.

Clayborn is tied for the league lead in sacks by rookie defensive linemen. Cleveland’s Jabaal Sheard also has 7.5. Vonn Miller (11.5) and Aldon Smith (10.5) have more sacks, but they are linebackers.

Clayborn also leads the Bucs with 25 quarterback pressures. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who suffered a season-ending injury, is second on the team with 13 pressures.

Foster has been starting at middle linebacker since opening day. He leads the team with 114 tackles, according to statistics kept by the team. The franchise rookie record for tackles is 151 by Hugh Green in 1981. Tackles aren’t an official statistic. But, if you go by NFL.com’s numbers, Foster leads all rookies with 71 tackles.

Foster also is the only rookie in the league to record at least one tackle, sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception this season. Foster also is one of only two Buccaneers to record at least one tackle, tackle for loss, sack, interception, pass defensed, forced fumble and fumble recovery this season. The other is veteran cornerback Ronde Barber.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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