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Mason Foster Could Line Up at OLB in 2012

Without the benefit of an NFL off-season to get acclimated to the National Football League, Buccaneers linebacker Mason Foster started 15 of 16 games as a rookie, totaling 83 tackles, two sacks and an interception from the middle linebacker spot.

Entering year two, Foster could move to outside linebacker, Stephen Holder of The Tampa Times reports.

“I can’t speak to that yet until we first of all address free agency and the draft and look at our overall package,” Buccaneers defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said. “But I will say this, to give you a roundabout answer: He’s a linebacker. And, to me, if you’re a good linebacker, you should be able to play (strong-side) or (middle) or (weak-side). You’re off the ball in a two-point stance, you have very similar key progressions and very similar coverage responsibilities.

“I’m not caught up on pigeonholing guys into positions. You’re a linebacker. And he definitely has NFL talent.”

The Buccaneers are flush with cap space and could make a run at one of the several high-profile middle linebackers could hit the free agent market. Adding a Curtis Lofton (Atlanta) would have the added bonus of weakening a division opponent, while David Hawthorne (Seattle) could be an option for the middle, as well. Both Lofton and Hawthorne are downhill players who have led their clubs in tackles in each of the last three seasons.

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