Robert Foster is entering his second NFL season but he'll be a little more certain about his roster spot in 2019. Foster was on and off and back on the roster in his first season with the Bills before earning a starting role during Week 11 against the New York Jets.
Foster shined in his first career start with three catches for 105 yards and now looks to take a big leap forward in year two. We take a look at why the speed wideout should be able to make noticeable advances in his game.
Other WR talent will draw attention
Foster made his way onto the opening day roster last season along with Kelvin Benjamin, Andre Homes and Jeremy Kerley, none of which remain on the roster heading into this season. The Bills went into the offseason with only three players remaining at wide receiver from that group, Zay Jones, Foster and Ray-Ray McCloud.
Buffalo added a trio of veterans this offseason with John Brown, Cole Beasley and Andre Roberts. Brown and Beasley project to be the most important additions this offseason.
The Bills still lack a true No. 1 receiver but the addition of talent will command attention from opposing defenses. Both Brown and Foster have the ability to shred defenses with their speed and Josh Allen's arm will find a way to meet them downfield. Beasley will be a focal point for opposing defenses underneath.
For Foster it should mean more single coverage and less safety help on his side due to the other receiving threats in Buffalo's passing game.
"We got Brown, we got Beasley as well, a lot of vets that are going to come in and help us and develop us as players," Foster said. "I'm very excited for them to come in and I'm going to take advantage of them. I want to become a great receiver and hopefully they continue to help me do it as a player."
Full understanding of offense
Another advantage for Foster will be his third year in offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's offense. The first came in his final collegiate season at Alabama with Daboll in 2017. Though Foster didn't put up numbers in his college career he had a working familiarity with the scheme when he arrived at One Bills Drive last spring.
Foster's exposure to the NFL game last season combined with more reps in the framework of Daboll's system has him primed to execute even more consistently in 2019 because none of it will feel like too much.
"I think it will end up going a little bit slow for me," Foster said. "You know what to expect now and know how to approach a game and how to get prepared for it."
Foster primary focus is not becoming complacent after some success down the stretch last season. When Foster was on the field during OTAs and minicamp, he was taking reps with the first-team. He knows that starting roles have yet to be decided but Foster wants to continue to work hard and embrace the opportunity.
It's a big change from being stuck on the third-team last year.
Strong chemistry with Josh Allen
Allen and Foster have worked tirelessly to get their timing down. The two came in on complete opposite ends of the rookie spectrum last season but still found themselves taking the majority of reps with one another, even during the bye week in 2018 when most players took time off.
When Foster stepped into a starting role midway through the season his extra work propelled him into a more prominent role. More importantly, Foster took advantage of the opportunity. According to Pro Football Focus, Foster had the highest passer rating for a receiver when targeted in the AFC East last season with a figure of over 127.
"Him giving me signals that he wants me to do certain things," Foster said. "He knows my craft and knows what ability I have. He knows what routes I'm good at and what routes I need to work on so that's how we just build a relationship and chemistry with one another."
Allen wants Foster to run go-routes or crossing routes, says Foster but the other ones he's going to keep to himself to surprise defenses this season.