As expected, Tampa Bay rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster was fined by the NFL for his big hit on New England wide receiver Chad Ochocinco last Thursday night, which drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.
Tampa Bay rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster has yet to receive his first NFL game check, but when he does once the regular season starts, it will be a bit lighter due to the fact that he was fined an undisclosed amount by the NFL for a hit on New England wide receiver Chad Ochocinco in the Bucs’ 31-14 loss to the Patriots last Thursday night.
In the first quarter Foster dropped in coverage and unloaded on Ochocinco, breaking up a pass intended for the former Bengals Pro Bowler. Foster’s helmet, forearm and shoulder hit Ochocinco in the head, which drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty and gave New England a first down. After the game on Friday, Ochocinco mentioned the hit on his Twitter page, saluted Foster for doing his job and hoped he wouldn’t be fined. Ochocinco even volunteered to pay the fine in his Twitter post, but that is not allowed by NFL rules.
On Wednesday at One Buccaneer Place, Foster acknowledged that he was fined for the hit.
“Actually I just got the letter right now,” Foster said. “I just got the letter, so I’ve just got to pay and keep on going from there. Hopefully he is going to pay for my fine (laughs). I’ll just pay and keep on moving, you know, and learn from it.”
Foster was appreciative of a highly recognizable veteran like Ochocinco going out of his way to respect his hit publicly in his Twitter post.
“It was cool,” Foster said. “Definitely growing up, I mean when we were younger he was one of the guys you would always see on TV and everything, so it was cool to get respect from another guy. At the same time, it is just playing football. I try to go out there and hit everybody.”
It appears as if Foster, who has started the first two preseason games at middle linebacker and is slated to start the third exhibition contest this week at home against Miami, is the early favorite to remain the starter for the regular season. Yet the Bucs’ third-round pick in 2011 is not looking past this week’s tilt against the Dolphins.
“I am excited,” Foster said. “I cannot wait. It's going to be fun to get out there and play. [I] get to play for a long time – three quarters [or] two and three quarters, or whatever. That is exciting to me to get the feel of the game and go out there against the Dolphins, who are a good team. I cannot wait.”
Foster is slated to be the middle linebacker only in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 base defense as strongside linebacker Quincy Black moves over to the middle when the Bucs go to two linebackers in nickel defense. Yet against New England, head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris threw Foster out there in pass coverage situations to see how the rookie would respond.
“Oh I am real comfortable,” Foster said. “We have a great [nickel linebacking corps] – Quincy and Geno – work well together. You know what I mean? Quincy is a crazy athlete, so put him out there and let him do his thing. But at the same time, I understand the concepts and can make the calls and everything. It's just the fact that I am with the second group.
“I’ll just keep working every day and get more familiar with everything [and] keep talking to Quincy and Geno. Sooner or later I will be there, but until then I am just working on what I need to work on, which is everything, so I am feeling good.”
Foster may be feeling good, but he is a few thousand dollars lighter in the pocket as a result of his hit on Ochocinco last Thursday night.
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