New England Patriots running back D.J. Foster is adjusting to a hybrid role within Bill Belichick’s offense. During his first three seasons at Arizona State, Foster played an integral role in the Sun Devils’ rushing attack, totaling 2,355 yards on 444 attempts (5.3 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns. His junior season in 2014, Foster eclipsed 1,000 yards on the ground.
The 6-foot, 195-pound speedster also had 222 receptions out of the backfield and even was officially listed as a wide receiver during his 2015 senior season. Foster’s 59 catches were 4 more touches than his 55 rushing attempts last fall.
With the Patriots, Foster has played a true hybrid role, earning rushing touches and running routes out of the backfield while New England attempts to replace Dion Lewis’ production as he returns from a torn ACL.
Belichick told reporters Friday that Foster has done well with the adjustment.
“Well it’s kind of a new position for D.J from where he was last year at Arizona State where he was out of the backfield a lot,” Belichick said. “He spent a lot of time as a running back. He has a lot of different responsibilities in terms of blitz pick up, running routes out of the backfield, running plays, reading blocks, so forth, relative to like sweeps and things like that.”
“He has some natural instincts, he’s done some of those things in the past. Certainly he’s gotten better on a steady basis. He works hard for his size and he’s got good playing strength and good toughness. He’s a tough kid and he works hard at what we ask him to do.
“But there’s definitely a lot of things he’s had to work on — he has worked on — has improved on. He made the roster, so he did enough to do that, but he still has a lot of room for growth and I think every day he gains experience back there and that helps him and some things he sees, he misses and gets ’em right the next time. He just hasn’t seen everything yet but he’s gaining on it.”
Foster has 7 catches for 24 yards and 1 reception for 2 yards in 2 games with the Patriots this season.