- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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One of the bigger stories of Tampa Bay’s training camp so far has been rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster. Now that the preseason is here, the story just keeps getting bigger.
After letting Barrett Ruud leave as a free agent, the Bucs seemed poise to put their defense in the hands of their third-round draft pick. Although Tyrone McKenzie got some first-team work early in camp, Foster has been getting most of the reps lately.
He got the start in Friday night’s preseason opener, a 25-0 victory against Kansas City. Here’s what coach Raheem Morris had to say about Foster after the game.
“We talked about wanting to see him in pads, and he was able to go out there and really put his pads on people,’’ Morris said. “Obviously, I’ve got to go grade the tape to see all the plays and see what he was able to do. But, I did see him recover a fumble, I did see him get a big third-down stop, and those are the things we want to see him do. I was so excited about what he did in that first quarter; in that first half, I took all his nickel reps away. I didn’t even want to play him in the second half. Hopefully, next game we’re going to get him out there in nickel and see some other things out of him. (We) put him on special teams a little bit, let him play a little bit. If he is going to be a two-down backer, he’ll have to give us a little bit on special teams.
One of the other big stories of Tampa Bay’s preseason has been Dezmon Briscoe. The Bucs stashed him on the practice squad for much of last season. But Briscoe’s had a great training camp and, with Arrelious Benn still recovering from a major knee injury, has a chance to start opposite Mike Williams.
Briscoe had four catches for 60 yards against the Chiefs.
“I was fired up about Dez,’’ Morris said. “I remember talking about him a while ago, saying how he might be one of our better receivers. He’s done nothing but show me and prove to us that he can play this game, and we’re fired up to have him. We were fired up when we got him last year at the time we did. And to incorporate him in our offense like he’s been able to do, I think it’s been special for him.”