Reuben Foster is as pro-ready a linebacker as we’ve seen in the last decade, but it doesn’t mean the bulldog from Alabama can’t learn a thing or two now that he’s in the NFL – especially from a four-time All-Pro in NaVorro Bowman.
While the 2017 first-round pick has been performing well in training camp—flashing all the traits that made him such an outstanding college player and coveted pro prospect—the place where he has the most to learn, given his colorful pre-draft tour, is off the field. And fortunately, it appears that’s where Foster is getting attention.
When asked if Bowman learned anything from former teammate and All-World linebacker Patrick Willis that he intends to pass down to Foster now that he is in that mentor role, Bowman didn’t point to hitting or coverage.
“One main thing is how to be a professional day in and day out,” Bowman said Saturday.
“You know, in this league, you can have success one week and not have success the next . . . Just try to keep chopping at it,” he added. “Like John (Lynch) said, brick by brick, taking it one step at a time. And at the end, see where everything is.”
Foster, a unanimous All-American and Butkus Award winner from a rough-and-tumble SEC, truly has the ability to be great at this level, and perhaps even a top-ranked player at his position right away. If he takes it one step and one day at a time as Bowman suggests, it could lead to a special career.
All that stands in his way are injuries and steering off course into territory that has swallowed the careers of so many promising athletes.
And that’s always a risk, with all players.
Flags of Foster’s include a surgically repaired shoulder, being sent home from the combine after having an argument with a hospital worker, failing a drug test before the draft (diluted sample), and then having his at-home draft party sponsored by a vaporizer company. Together it paints a picture of why he tumbled to No. 31 overall.
And still, with that being said, that is not the player that’s been grinding in Santa Clara. By all accounts, Foster has been healthy, an honors student in the classroom, an elite performer on the field, a colossus in the gym and the pulse of the locker room. He’s been so locked in and team-oriented—just really focused.
And being a professional includes all those things; it means being committed, taking care of your body and avoiding compromising situations.
While he incurred injuries, Bowman, like Willis before him, never had an off-field incident as a pro.
“Really, it’s honing in on your craft,” Bowman said, speaking on the matter of professionalism. “And not letting anybody hold the pen and write the story for you. You put what you want to put out there.”
Media courtesy AP