Enter the life of New England Patriots undrafted rookie running back D.J. Foster. Despite being passed on by all 32 teams in the 2016 NFL Draft, Foster has a clear window of opportunity to make the Patriots’ final roster this summer.
When it came to light that Dion Lewis would start training camp on the PUP list, Foster’s chances of squeezing onto the final roster increased markedly. What Foster has to do now is prove his worth as a competent, dependable and dangerous pass catcher out of the backfield.
Look, if Lewis is not 100 percent for Week 1, the Patriots are going to have to decide between James White and the next-best pass catching running back. While White is a proven entity in New England, and a good one at that, he is not unbeatable. An energetic, mistake-free effort out of Foster in training camp could push White, and in turn, put Foster in consideration for a real role against the Arizona Cardinals.
Of course, we hope that Lewis gets taken off the PUP before the Patriots are faced with leaving him off the Week 1 gameday roster. However, re-injury risk for Lewis is going to be pretty high; he wasn’t moving all that well in OTAs, uncharacteristically dropping passes. Plus, the nature of Lewis’ game is very start-stop-cut-on-a-dime to begin with, a playing style fraught with ACL danger.
Also factoring into the mix will be Donald Brown, but he hasn’t been nearly as good catching passes out of the backfield in the past few seasons. Maybe if Brown can rekindle his Indianapolis Colts form from several years ago, he will contend more seriously for a roster spot. But at this point, you have to think that Foster and White will be the top candidates should Lewis miss much time.
There’s something about an undrafted rookie in Foxboro summer heat. If Foster can channel his youth into a nothing-to-lose attitude, he might just become the next Malcolm Butler or David Andrews.
What do you think? Will Foster find a way onto the field in Week 1?