The Redskins declined to comment Monday on the specifics of Foster’s injury or the timeline for his recovery.
Foster collapsed on the third play of the first workout of organized team activities May 20, screaming in pain after tearing his ACL, lateral collateral ligament and medial collateral ligament. He was slated to be a significant addition to the Redskins’ defense, but those plans were scrapped moments into his first practice when it was clear he had suffered a season-ending injury.
Foster’s agent, Malki Kawa, told NFL Network that nerve damage caused the linebacker to lose feeling in his toes for the past several months. The feeling finally returned during a recent trip to Colombia.
“He’s got feeling in his toes, the underside of his foot, the side of his foot,” Kawa told the network. “The nerve is starting to fire again.”
The Redskins acquired Foster, 25, off waivers in November 2018 after the San Francisco 49ers waived him following a second arrest for domestic violence. The charges were later dropped, and Foster was removed from the Commissioner’s Exempt list in April after sitting out the remainder of the 2018 season. He received no further suspension from the league and was eligible to play in 2019 before his injury.
Former Redskins coach Jay Gruden was optimistic immediately after Foster underwent surgery in the weeks after he was injured, but Gruden also acknowledged there would be a long rehab process.
“He’s walking around [with] great, great energy,” Gruden said in July. “He’s helping out in drills here and there, sitting in meetings. He’s still a big part of this football team. He’s just going to have to rehab, and it’s going to be a long road for him, but he’s the type of guy that will put the work in.”
Foster would be in line for a key position next season in the middle of new coach Ron Rivera’s defense, which is switching to a 4-3 base from the 3-4 run by former coordinator Greg Manusky, but the injury may delay that. The well-traveled Jon Bostic and fifth-round draft pick Cole Holcomb started at inside linebacker in 2019. Holcomb remains in the mix, but Bostic is a free agent.
The Redskins weren’t particularly deep behind Holcomb and Bostic on the inside and may have to address the position in free agency or the draft regardless of Foster’s situation. The new coaching staff will have to make a decision on Bostic after he was second on the team with 105 tackles last season despite being signed only after Foster went down. Holcomb was third with 101 tackles.
Foster was the No. 31 pick by the 49ers in 2017 and has started all 16 games he has played in a career disrupted by injuries and off-field issues. He was an all-American as a senior at Alabama in 2016 and won the Dick Butkus Award, given to the nation’s top linebacker.
“The linebacking corps, I think it’s a pretty solid group of guys,” Rivera said at his introductory news conference this month. “They run well. They play physical. What we want to do is playing downhill through their gap. We’re going to play the run on our way to the quarterback.”