Eric Foster's Goal Entering 2010 is to Rush the Passer a Bit Better Than Before
INDIANAPOLIS – Eric Foster said he's not satisfied. Not even close.
Because while Foster, who is entering his third off-season as a defensive tackle with the Colts, reached a certain amount of his goal this past season – and while he was a key contributor on the interior of the defensive line – he also said in the NFL, improving one season isn't enough.
You have to keep doing it, and toward that end, he said he has a new goal.
Last year, he improved as a pass rusher.
This season, he said he wants to see more consistent results.
"I got a couple of sacks – that's not good enough," Foster said recently following a session of the Colts' 2010 organized team activities, four weeks of on-field, team-oriented activities scheduled to be held through June 11 at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Foster, who made the Colts as a free-agent rookie from Rutgers University in 2008, started 11 games that season, and while he played mostly as a backup last season, he reached his preseason goal.
To increase his sacks totals.
Foster, who did not have a sack in 2008, started five games this past season – two at tackle and three at end – and registered 2.5 sacks.
"That's not good enough," he said.
Which was why Foster, who typically works tirelessly watching tape in the off-season and regular season, said he paid particularly close attention to reviewing his work this past season.
Yes, he said, there was increased pressure.
And yes, he got the desired result at times.
But he said there was more that could have been accomplished.
"As I evaluate the entire season, me and (Colts Defensive Line) Coach (John) Teerlinck came up with the fact that I've got to explode out of my moves," Foster said. "I was doing a great job beating my guys. It's just that extra little push."
Doing a little extra is what Foster said has allowed him to be a contributor on two consecutive post-season teams – including this past season's AFC South and AFC Champions – after not being selected in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Foster, who many analysts considered a potential late-round draft selection, impressed Colts coaches immediately in 2008, making the team in training camp and entering the season as a reserve. With the retirement that preseason of Quinn Pitcock, and with the early-season release of Ed Johnson, Foster moved into the starting lineup and played solidly.
He started 11 of 13 games played, and finished the season with 49 tackles and six quarterback pressures, but was unsatisfied with his pass rush. He spent last off-season studying every NFL interior defensive linemen, hoping to improve.
He finished last season with not only the 2.5 sacks, but also 12 quarterback pressures. He also had 43 tackles, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
But Foster said what bothered him was the thought of what those statistics could have been had he finished plays just a bit better. He said not finishing plays effectively enough is an issue for many defensive linemen, and the ability to finish often separates average linemen from the elite.
"A lot of guys tend to relax," he said. "They beat their guy, and they ended up not getting the quarterback, so I just have to explode out of my moves.
"You can't relax anytime. A lot of times, you feel like you have your guy beat, and you have to remember, this is the NFL: guys make up. They recover. You have to do a better job of finishing."
As is the case with several Colts defensive linemen, Foster is smaller than the prototypical defensive tackle. At 6-feet-2, 265 pounds, he relies on agility, speed and quickness to make plays, but those traits also allow him to chase down and make impact plays many bigger tackles can't make.
But Foster said while athleticism has helped him at times in his first two NFL seasons, it's just as true that the work ethic and desire that allowed him to overcome odds and make it as an undrafted free agent has helped him, too.
That drive, Foster said, has kept him in the NFL.
He said it's what must keep him there, and it's what keeps him trying to improve each off-season as well.
"You can't stay the same," Foster said. "You have to find something in your game, and it's always something you can improve on. The hardest thing is to focus in on what exactly it is you need to focus in on.
"You can't cheat yourself at all. There's no easy way out, no easy way of doing it."