With gimpy Black benched, Foster steps up
If Bucs LB Quincy Black didn't look like himself in the first half, it's because he wasn't. Coach Raheem Morris said he benched Black after discovering he had an ankle injury that presumably played a role in several missed tackles.

Not that Black used it as a defense. "That's not my thing," he said. "If I'm out there, I'm out there. I don't make excuses. That's why when I don't make plays, guys are surprised."

Black's loss meant rookie Mason Foster, who has been playing only in the base defense, was asked to play in the nickel defense in passing situations. That's a situation he has little experience with, one that requires him to get downfield in coverage. He had a pass-interference penalty against WR Percy Harvin in the fourth quarter, an infraction that moved the ball 23 yards and led to a field goal.

But the day proved to be a learning experience for the kid, who finished with a team-high 10 tackles and continued to stand out despite his inexperience.

"I'm trying to erase all the mistakes, but I know that if I do mess up, I can play as hard and as fast as I can," Foster said. "We have great people around. The veterans and everybody else played great around me, and I play off of them."

Morris sent Foster on a blitz in the first half that resulted in Foster's first sack against QB Donovan McNabb making it a day he'll always remember.

"It was a blitz, and I came (through) free," Foster said. "I think it was supposed to be a bootleg, but one of our ends came free and forced (McNabb) back inside. I was just running to the ball. My first sack in the NFL. It felt great. Man, I'm excited."

About the writer
Stephen F Holder has been writing additional Buccaneer features and daily blog reports on the team for several seasons now for The St.Petersburg Times.