LB Reuben Foster has had a rough rookie season and start to his career in the NFL. Some experts predicted him to be in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, but a high ankle sprain in the first game of the season and a rib injury has kept him from being the Ferrari we were expecting, and sidelined him for multiple games.
This past Sunday marked his first full game, and he did not disappoint. He racked up 13 solo tackles and 1 tackle for loss. He looked exactly like the linebacker and defensive weapon we thought he would be.
Now that we know though that he is exactly the player that was advertised, do we really need to see him play out the rest of the season?
For me, the most important part of Foster’s rookie season is his health. Aside from the anger issues at the combine, the reason Foster dropped down mock draft boards was because evaluators were scared of how his surgically repaired shoulder would hold up to the rigors and physicality of the football field. While his shoulder hasn’t really been the problem, giving him added rest time to let his ankle fully heal and his ribs fully heal is only going to make him a better player.
He has talked extensively with the media about feeling nervous going full speed on the field, which is to be expected for ankle injuries like that. Unless it has fully healed, there is a pretty high chance he can re-sprain it. I will never fault Foster for having the passion that he does for football, and wanting to be out on the field. It’s clear though that his ankle isn’t healed completely, and that’s not an injury you want to play Russian roulette with.
Having Foster go to IR though and rehab his injuries isn’t the worst idea in the world. Yes he’s like a caged puppy on the sidelines when he’d injured and inactive. He wants to be the face of the defense though. He wants that green dot on his helmet, and to be able to call the plays. He can’t do that though if he can’t stay on the field, and unfortunately for him, part of that means learning the patience to know when you’re good to go and when you need to rest.
From a pure numbers perspective, I don’t anticipate HC Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch putting Foster on IR. Shanahan has talked about the struggles he will be facing just having enough players active and healthy enough for game day. While the uptick in injuries is sad for the players and the team, I just hope they keep an eye on Foster and make his health for the rest of this season a top priority.
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