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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Foster earns praise after first Colts' start

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

By MICHAEL MAROT

AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- A week ago, defensive tackle Eric Foster was an unknown commodity outside the Indianapolis Colts complex.

Now, he may be their next hope to plug a leaky run defense.

Foster, an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers, made his first career NFL start Sunday, three days after the Colts waived starting tackle Ed Johnson.

If first impressions mean anything Foster could be the Colts' next big find, joining a list of prominent undrafted rookie contributors that have included Dominic Rhodes, Jeff Saturday, Marcus Pollard and Gary Brackett.

"Eric played well," coach Tony Dungy said. "He and Keyunta (Dawson) both battled and hung in there, took on a lot of double teams and did a good job."

At 6-foot-2, 265 pounds, Foster -- like many of the Colts' defensive linemen -- is undersized by NFL standards.

But that didn't prevent him from standing up to one of the biggest offensive lines in football Sunday at Minnesota. Foster finished with only two tackles, one of which went for a loss, but he followed Dungy's plan by helping to keep those bulky Vikings linemen off of the Colts' speedy linebackers.

By all accounts, Foster wasn't just effective Sunday; he played like a veteran.

"He's a professional, a mature guy," linebacker Gary Brackett said. "He's just trying to come in and find his part, but he's a smart guy."

And, of course, Brackett, a Rutgers grad himself, expected nothing less after Foster's surprise ascension into the starting lineup.

"He was staying in his gap, he was very active and that TFL was big for us," Brackett said. "They teach them well at Rutgers."


GOOD ENOUGH: The Colts' defense allowed Minnesota to rush for 180 yards, get into Indy territory on each of its first eight possessions and build a 15-0 lead.

That wasn't what mattered to Dungy or the Colts.

"We knew if we kept the score relatively low, the offense would get going," Brackett said.

A year ago, the Colts allowed the NFL's fewest points (262).

And Dungy often says that is the most meaningful defensive statistic.

While the Colts coach acknowledged there still needs to be some corrections, Dungy thought the defense did a good enough job to win.

"If you can keep the game close enough where you just need a couple of big plays to win it, anything can happen," Dungy said. "That's the way a lot of NFL games are, and that's pretty much what happened."


ANOTHER TEST: Indy has already played two teams that rely predominantly on their ground games.

They'll face a third straight opponent with the same philosophy Sunday.

Two years ago, Jacksonville's running back tandem of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor gashed the Colts for an astounding 375 yards rushing in one game. Indy fared much better last season when it limited the Jaguars to 285 yards in two games.

But with the Jags 0-2, the Colts anticipate they will revert to their previous form even with a banged up offensive line.

"They haven't run the ball nearly as well as they're capable of with those two runners," Dungy said. "When you see their stats and they're averaging 2.9 or 3.0 yards per carry, that's very unusual for them. I think both teams are going to look at, 'Hey we have new guys in there, but we have to run the ball better.' I'm sure we'll see both of those guys run it quite a bit."


DAY AT THE IMPROV: The lateral from Anthony Gonzalez to Reggie Wayne late in the third quarter Sunday finally got the Colts' offense started.

It wasn't planned.

After the game, Gonzalez called it one of the dumber things he's done on the football field, and Dungy said Monday it wasn't even in the Colts' playbook.

"There are times where it just happens and it's there," Dungy said. "You have to give him credit, he and Reggie both, for an alert play. It's not something we practice and you certainly don't usually make them at the end of 60-yard plays, but that was a big one for us."


QUICK KICKS: Reggie Wayne, who had a career-high 104 receptions last season and led the league in yards receiving, is off to another good start. He's already caught 15 passes for 179 yards. ... Gonzalez leads the AFC in yards receiving with 185 yards through the first two weeks. ... If there were any questions about how quickly Dwight Freeney would get back to form, they should be answered now. Freeney, a former league sacks champ, is averaging 1 sack per game. ... Why hasn't Indy looked like itself? The Colts rank last in the league in rushing offense, 28th in run defense and their minus-2 turnover margin is 26th. ... Gonzalez, Kelvin Hayden and Adam Vinateiri earned game balls from Sunday's victory.



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