The Patriots under Bill Belichick have always valued versatility in their players. Undrafted rookie D.J. Foster takes that approach to the extreme.
Foster played both running back and wide receiver at Arizona State, and when he wasn't among the 253 players selected in the draft, he soon got a call from Belichick.
"It was crazy for me," said Foster, who joined the rest of the offensive rookies at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday for their first meetings with the New England media.
"I had about five minutes. I had the chance to talk to Coach Belichick. This organization speaks for itself. For a guy my age, growing up, hearing about them, the organization, the New England Patriots. I talked to them, and I just loved his message to me. I was excited to join."
Foster was weighing offers from the Patriots as well as Arizona and Houston, but quickly decided New England was his best option. It's easy to see why Belichick was attracted to him. He played both positions extensively for the Sun Devils, rushing 194 times for 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns while catching 62 passes for 688 yards and three touchdowns during his junior season before moving to wideout full-time the next year.
As a senior in 2015 he grabbed 59 balls for 584 yards and three touchdowns while also contributing occasionally out of the backfield with 55 carries for 280 yards and one TD.
Generously listed at 6-0 (he measured at 5-10 at the Combine) and 195 pounds, Foster says he's a running back for now but added that there hasn't been much talk with the coaching staff about his position moving forward.
"We haven't really talked about that," Foster said. "That's up to Coach Belichick. That's something you'll have to have to ask him. Right now, I'm working with [running backs] Coach [Ivan] Fears and the running back group. I'm just learning every day, learning about the organization, the culture of this organization and just learning my teammates."
If Foster pans out he could prove to be an effective backup at both spots, potentially serving the role of two players. His skills would seem to make him an ideal fit as a third-down back, and he'll likely join Dion Lewis and James White as competitors for such a role. Donald Brown also has the ability to catch the ball and could factor into the mix as well.
He also could serve as a fifth or sixth receiver, and his athleticism should make him a candidate to play special teams. Foster believes the work at both spots helped him gain a better understanding of football.
"Moving to wide receiver helped me kind of broaden my view and perspective of the game," Foster said. "I learned a lot at receiver. I learned a lot being in the receiver room, understanding defenses better as a receiver, and it overall helps me as a running back. They correlate with each other, and I definitely think it benefited me in the long run."
D.J. Foster Bio