Foster has Saints coaches' eye
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
METAIRIE — After registering three sacks in his first two NFL exhibitions, defensive lineman Glenn Foster likes his chances of becoming the latest undrafted rookie to make the New Orleans Saints’ regular season roster.
“Definitely,” said Foster, who also has been credited with three quarterback hits and a forced fumble. “Whenever a free agent or anyone comes out and shows out like that, you always feel confident going into the next game that you can do more.”
Foster has two preseason games left to continue proving himself, starting with Sunday’s exhibition in Houston. For now, though, coach Sean Payton isn’t saying anything to discourage the former Illinois defensive tackle, who now lines up at end in the Saints’ 3-4 scheme.
“He’s playing exceptionally well,” Payton said. “When you get a player who comes in a rookie class as an undrafted free agent and is playing like he is and well enough to make the team, that’s a good deal.
“He is very consistent, explosive,” Payton continued. “He was a player, after the draft, that a handful of teams were interested in and fortunately for us we were able to get him.”
The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Foster said he was lured to New Orleans by phone calls from Payton himself, who reminded Foster of another former Fighting Illini player — running back Pierre Thomas — who made his club as an undrafted rookie in 2007.
“He told me that I had a legitimate shot of making the team,” Foster said. “Pierre Thomas, from Illinois... he’s here on this team. I felt confident that I was able to fit into this 3-4 defense.”
Payton said he was told that Foster had all but committed to Kansas City, but the coach hoped he could change Foster’s mind, adding that he spoke to Foster “three or four times” in the course of an hour.
“We try to talk about our past track record, and that we have had a number of players make this team that weren’t necessarily drafted,” Payton said. “These players coming out now are very smart about the depth chart, about the roster and not making the decision over $2,500, prior to taxes, in signing bonus. They are really looking close at: ‘Where can I make a team and where can I have a chance.’ To his credit, fortunately for us, he chose us.”
For now, Foster has acquired the “training camp hero” label, applied to relative unknowns whose preseason performances create a buzz.
Time will tell if he can parlay that into productivity in games that count. The Saints have had other players shine in the preseason, only to disappear into obscurity. In 2009, receiver Rod Harper was the talk of camp when he returned two punts for touchdowns — including a 79-yarder — to go with five catches for 83 yards. He made the team, but was sidelined by a foot injury, then was cut during the 2010 preseason.
Playing on the interior line at Illinois, Foster had four sacks and was credited with 11 tackles for losses during three college seasons.
Foster called his three sacks, including a forced fumble, in two pro exhibitions “a surprise,” but added that he never allowed the fact that he went undrafted erode his belief that he could make an NFL roster.
“I knew had the talent to be drafted and be a contender (to make the roster) here,” Foster said. “I just felt like: ‘Let me go out here and prove to these coaches, to the league, and this organization that I’m here to play.’”
Notes: Payton said that he doubts WR Marques Colston, who has practiced intermittently recently, would play at Houston, though he would not rule it out entirely. ... Payton said he expects most starters and regulars to play at least through the first half against Houston. ... OLB Junior Galette attended practice but did not participate in football drills, instead working on his conditioning off to the side. ... FB Jed Collins did not attend practice. Payton has not specified whether Collins has an injury, saying only Thursday that he was being “rested.” ... Payton said LB Chris Chamberlain has been excused for family reasons and is expected back Monday.