‘Arrow’ pointing up for former Central Valley star WR Robert Foster
Unlike a year ago, Robert Foster has some clarity about his NFL future.
Foster, the former Central Valley star wide receiver, emerged as one of the unlikely success stories in the NFL last season, and the Buffalo Bills are hoping he can build on his progress in 2019.
Last week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Bills general manager Brandon Beane was asked about Foster’s unexpected emergence.
“I like where his arrow is, and he’s really embraced the opportunity,” Beane said. “I look forward to seeing where he goes in his second season.”
Foster left Central Valley as the nation’s No. 2 wide receiver recruit. He bypassed a chance to stay home and play at Pitt and enrolled at Alabama. While Foster’s team routinely played for the national championship, he was a limited contributor. He had 35 catches for 389 yards in his career, with 14 receptions for 174 yards and a touchdown coming in his senior season.
Foster wasn’t selected in the NFL Draft, and he signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent. One reason the Bills took a chance on Foster was because offensive coordinator Brian Daboll previously held the same position at Alabama.
“Obviously, we had a little inside connection … and what a great deal,” Beane said.
The Bills, however, waived Foster on Oct. 18 and signed him to the practice squad. After being promoted to the 53-man roster on Nov. 11, Foster had a strong finish to his rookie season.
Foster finished with 27 catches for 541 yards and three touchdowns, including a 75-yard score. Among players with at least 25 receptions, Foster led the NFL with 20.04 yards per catch.
“We released him early in the year when he wasn’t effective and he wasn’t able to make plays,” Beane said. “He was making plays in practice, but it was not translating and there were some things that he needed to clean up technically that were causing some of the errors and the drive that he showed.
“He didn’t even leave town on the bye week because he was so focused on earning that opportunity, and we brought him back up. … From there, he just took off.”
Foster developed a rapport with rookie quarterback Josh Allen, who returned from an elbow injury and started the final six games of the season. Foster had 22 catches for 404 yards and two touchdowns in that span.
“The two really formed a nice partnership,” Beane said.
Pro Football Focus recently ranked Foster – and not Allen – as the Bills player with the most potential to have a breakout season in 2019.
“With one year under the belts of both Allen and Foster, and an offseason to further develop their chemistry, Foster could be primed for a big year as part of the Bills’ passing attack,” wrote Pro Football Focus’ Mark Chichester.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .