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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Mason Foster looking like a fixture at middle linebacker



This will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched Bucs rookie linebacker Mason Foster the past three games, but coach Raheem Morris sounds like he's leaning toward leaving Foster in the game for all defensive snaps, regardless of Quincy Black's status.

Foster played his first full game on Sunday against the Falcons. Previously, Foster had been playing only in the Bucs' base defense, giving way to Black in the nickel defense and other packages. Black missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury. Foster's performance in the game -- in which he was responsible for making defensive calls for the first time -- was so encouraging that Morris seems inclined to leave him alone.

Black will remain the strong-side linebacker when he returns, Morris said, meaning Dekoda Watson likely is headed back to the bench. But Black's role could be reduced because of Foster's emergence. On Sunday, Foster had his second sack and a tackle for loss to go along with five tackles.

"There’s no doubt about it," Morris said. "Quincy is our starting (strong-side) linebacker. Mason certainly made an argument the last two weeks about being the starting (middle linebacker) in the nickel."

If that's the case, there would be some role changes elsewhere. No decisions have been made, but there are some possibilities.

"If that happens, you have Quincy, who you can always use as a rusher, like we do with Dekoda," Morris said. "Dekoda’s been doing a nice job with that. We can also use Quincy as a (weak-side) backer. He and Geno (Hayes) split some time last year. I feel great about playing all those guys. Certainly, Mason had a strong showing at Mike, being able to control everything. It was awesome. It looked pretty good and we might want to stay with some of those things."

[Last modified: Monday, September 26, 2011 1:59pm]


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