Foster, 26, has yet to play a game or participate in a full practice for Washington since he was claimed off waivers from San Francisco in November 2018. Washington’s decision to acquire him was met with sharp criticism because Foster had just been arrested twice on domestic violence charges, and his career, dating from before he was drafted, has been riddled with off-field trouble and significant injuries. He has played 16 NFL games since he was drafted in 2017, the last of which was in October 2018.
Although Washington’s previous staff compared Foster to Ray Lewis based on his potential, it also admitted he may never suit up for the team. Foster was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List because of his arrests in 2018 and wasn’t reinstated until April 2019, when charges were dropped and an NFL investigation found insufficient evidence to support his suspension.
On the first day of organized team activities with Washington, however, he tore the ACL and lateral collateral ligament in his left knee and suffered nerve damage. He missed the entire 2019 season after undergoing surgery.
The team declined his fifth-year option in April, but defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and linebackers coach Steve Russ praised his work throughout the offseason.
“Reuben has been fantastic,” Russ said recently. “I mean, he’s back there taking mental reps. He’s making the calls. He’s lining up. He’s putting himself in that position. He’s saying out loud what he’s going to do. … I see Reuben making all the calls with his hands whether I asked him or not, and I can see his lips moving whether I asked him a question or not. So, I told him, I don’t have to ask you a question for you to be able to answer it. And I really like where Reuben is. I like his intent. I really like his focus. I like his discipline right now. And obviously we’re rooting for him. We are his biggest fans.”
Foster rejoins a defense in flux as it switches from the 3-4 scheme to Del Rio’s 4-3. His fit in the system, and with the team, will gain clarity in the coming weeks.
Thomas, 29, was placed on the covid-19 list at the start of training camp, meaning he tested positive or came in contact with someone who did.
Coach Ron Rivera has likened Thomas’s athleticism to that of former Carolina tight end Greg Olsen and has expressed high hopes that the converted quarterback can become a productive piece of Washington’s offense.
“Pete Hoener, our tight ends coach, felt very strongly about this guy’s abilities, mostly because he thought he was a very smart and savvy football player,” Rivera said in April. “He’s a tremendous athlete. And he’s just learning and getting the position right now.”
Washington is set to begin the second phase of its training camp ramp-up period Thursday. The first padded practice is scheduled for Aug. 18.