Buccaneers rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster has officially made a splash in both of his starts in the 2011 preseason. After recovering a fumble at the Chiefs' 9-yard line to set up a first-quarter touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 25-0 victory at Kansas City, Foster drilled New England’s Chad Ochocinco to break up a pass intended for the Patriots’ newest wide receiver.
The only problem with the crushing, highlight-reel hit
was that Foster hit Ochocinco with his helmet and forearm and drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty that gave the Patriots an automatic first down. Yet Ochocinco, an 11-year NFL veteran, congratulated Foster for the big hit that he felt was clean.
In fact, Ochocinco went as far as saying that he would volunteer to pay for any fine levied against Tampa Bay’s third-round pick in 2011, posting this on his Twitter account on Friday:
“@Mason_Foster great hit last night. if u're fined I'll reimburse u boss. That's the way the game should b played. Stay healthy n have a good yr” [sic].
The NFL has already come out and said that it will not allow Ochocinco to pay for any Foster gets from the play as that is a rule in the collective bargaining agreement.
Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris downplayed Foster’s penalty in Friday’s press conference.
“That’s something you just have to coach and get a little better at,” Morris said. “Obviously, they’re going to err on the side of caution with the National Football League, but you don’t want to deter Mason, either. We’re not going to let that be a deterrent for us in how physical we want to play.”
Morris indicated he didn’t have a problem with the way Foster hit him because he had already launched himself towards the Patriots receiver as Ochocinco began to fall towards the ground.
“There are going to be some questionable (hits) like that all year,” Morris said. “(Foster) didn’t have his head in there, but he put his elbow to the guy’s head. You could flip a coin and not call it or call it.”
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