D.J. Foster reflects on ASU coaching change, role with Cardinals

Nov 29, 2017, 6:23 PM
Running back D.J. Foster of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball during an NFL training session...

Running back D.J. Foster of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball during an NFL training session at the London Irish rugby team training ground in the Sunbury-on-Thames, a suburb of south west London, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. The Arizona Cardinals are preparing for an NFL regular season game against the Los Angeles Rams in London on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

TEMPE, Ariz. — D.J. Foster was the big fish Todd Graham had to catch to make inroads in local recruiting for Arizona State football. Graham landed that fish, but Foster does not think Graham’s firing six seasons later will mean the state of Arizona is open for exploitation.

“A lot of coaching staff will still be there,” the Cardinals running back said Wednesday. “I think it’s just an understanding for players locally in the state to understand that you don’t go for just the head coach, you go for the university and that’s what I did. I got an experience out of it.”

“N’Keal Harry, Chase Lucas, guys like that that are going to ASU, they’re playing big-time football and seeing guys like that locally from Arizona continuing to have that kind of success is big to help guys stay.”

Foster committed when Dennis Erickson was still the Sun Devils’ coach, but he remained committed to ASU when Erickson was fired and Graham took over in December of 2011. Foster said he is sad to see Graham go.

“It’s the ugly part of the business and college is a business just as well as the NFL. Players go through it and coaches go through it,” said Foster. “He did a lot for me in my time there and I appreciate everything he did, growing me as a man and as a football player. I know he’s going to get another job somewhere. He’s a great coach and I think he brings a lot to the table and a program, and I think he will do that somewhere else.”

Foster is settling into his evolving role with the Cardinals. He had three catches for 18 yards on Sunday against Jacksonville, and one rush for four yards. The former Scottsdale Saguaro High School and Sun Devil standout got both toes down along the sideline on a 12-yard reception with 11 seconds in regulation to set up Phil Dawson’s game-winning, 57-yard field goal in a 27-24 win.

“Shout out for Phil for making that kick because that catch really doesn’t mean too much if he doesn’t make that field goal,” Foster said. “It was a great moment to be part of to help the team win a big home game against Jacksonville. Just to give the team that juice again, it felt good.”

Coach Bruce Arians said he likes what he has seen from Foster’s all-around game.

“I was really pleased with his blitz pickup,” Arians said. “That was the biggest concern with him being a nickel back. He jumped up and blocked it really well up the middle and just continues to grow and learn.

“You wish you had him all of OTAs and like a lot of these young guys, you say something and you expect them to know it and [then you think] ‘oh, hell you weren’t here for training camp or you weren’t here for that’ so you have to re-teach them on the run.”

Foster is under contract through next season but he has no idea what his future holds — not next season and not this week. Running back Adrian Peterson missed practice on Wednesday with a neck injury while Kerwyn Williams practiced despite cracked ribs, leaving the running back rotation in flux.

“I take it one day at a time, try and learn as much as I can, embrace the challenge go out there and have fun, enjoy the week of practice and just learn and grow,” he said. “I definitely have a lot more details that I can work on, understanding the details throughout the week and that’s my biggest focus.

“I’ve got to show it in practice. That’s where it starts. That’s what I try to work on throughout the week, taking whatever my reps are and trying to minimize the mental errors and go out and perform on the practice field so it can translate into the game.”

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