Originally created 08/13/02

Rookie Foster earns more playing time after solid NFL debut



SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Rookie running back DeShaun Foster has earned some playing time with the first team following his performance in Saturday night's preseason opener against the Washington Redskins.

Head coach John Fox said he hasn't decided who will start against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, but he will rotate Foster and Lamar Smith, who is currently the team's top back on the depth chart.

Foster, the team's second-round draft pick from UCLA, rushed 61 yards for a touchdown on his first play from scrimmage. He finished with 87 yards on seven carries and turned a couple of runs that seemed destined for losses into gains.

Smith was held to minus-3 yards on four carries and dropped a pass before leaving in the second quarter. A free agent pickup from the Miami Dolphins, Smith has gained more than 2,000 rushing yards over the past two seasons.

Fox said he's been impressed with Foster ever since minicamp.

"As coaches, you watch practice every day and he's exhibited a lot of the same things you saw Saturday night," Fox said. "It's something we've seen in practice. There's really nothing like a game though. I think he responded to that well."

Quarterback Randy Fasani also looked good in his first NFL game. He led the team on four touchdown drives, running for two scores and throwing for another.

"It was one game. I think the coaches are going to look at me in practices now and see if I come back with a level head, see how I perform the next three preseason games," Fasani said.

Offensive coordinator Dan Henning said Fasani surprised him with his leadership and emotion.

"He's one of those guys who has a lot of fire inside that you don't see all the time," Henning said. "(Quarterbacks coach) Mike McCoy was on the sideline, and during the course of the third quarter, he said, 'This is a different guy in a game.' He got fired up, got excited. So we were kind of excited for him."

Fasani, who played more than half of the game against Washington, may see less game time Saturday.

Starting quarterback Chris Weinke will probably play the first half, and backup quarterback Rodney Peete may return to action after missing the last game because of a family death.

NOTES: Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad was held out of practice Monday to rest his ankle. He's expected to play this week... Peete's wife, Holly, gave birth to their third child Monday. Peete is expected to return to practice Wednesday.