Glenn Foster didn’t know if he was violating some kind of rookie protocol.
And he really didn’t care.
After the Arizona Cardinals called a timeout amid noise created by New Orleans Saints fans Sunday afternoon, Foster, an undrafted defensive end from Illinois making his first NFL appearance, took it upon himself to pump up the volume even more — first dancing in place, then encouraging the Mercedes-Benz Superdome crowd to get louder.
Most of the those in attendance might not have known who No. 97 was, but they certainly responded.
The result: Foster and nose tackle Tyrunn Walker collapsed the pocket enough that quarterback Carson Palmer had to hurry his throw to Patrick Peterson, and Arizona had to punt after reaching the Saints 42 while the game was tied early in the second quarter.
“I feed off the energy of the fans,” Foster said following his team’s 31-7 victory. “When my adrenaline starts flowing, I don’t feel like anybody can stop me.”
Foster, who was inactive in the first two games with an injured ankle, later would record his first sack, punctuating his joy with a move that was either a windmill or jumping rope, depending on who was doing the describing.
Whatever the case, it was a big day for Foster and Walker, a second-year man who sat out last week with a knee injury, as they went long stretches spelling starters John Jenkins and Akiem Hicks to shore up a depleted defensive front.
The sack was Foster’s only credited tackle of the day, and Walker’s lone citation was for a quarterback hurry. But between them, they made things easier for Junior Galette and Cameron Jordan to harass Palmer (four sacks and nine hurries) while giving Hicks, who was playing with a knee injury, and Jenkins, a rookie pressed into starting duty a week ago when Brodrick Bunkley went down, ample rest.
It was a key factor in the Saints allowing an 80-yard touchdown drive on Arizona’s opening possession and then forcing eight straight punts before the Cardinals’ final two possessions ended in interceptions. Arizona, which ranked 14th in total offense and 10th in scoring, had only 167 yards and no points after going up 7-0.
“We knew we’d be getting those guys out eventually,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “It was good to get them on the field because it helps so much with our rotation. We like to get a rotation where we’ve got some guys coming in, and we’ve got some depth there now. Overall, that’s got to help us.”
Or, as Galette put it, “Those are our ‘young unknowns.’ Nobody knows much about ’em, but they’re as talented as anybody I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
Walker was on the team last season but about as unknown as you can get, other than the fact he is from New Iberia. Undrafted out of Tulsa, he was inactive for 15 games and didn’t get in for a snap in the one he did suit up for.
But he made the cut again this year and played about 20 snaps in the opener against Atlanta before being sidelined last week.
“I went in confident that, if I kept working hard, good things would happen for me,” Walker said. “I was just glad for the opportunity to finally show what I can do to help us be successful.”
Foster also said he was confident of making the team, despite his undrafted status, although he acknowledged that Kenyon Coleman being lost for the season with an injury might have facilitated things a bit.
On the field, Foster said he was more rusty than nervous — not having played since the exhibition finale against Miami — and a little frustrated because he was drawing so many double teams.
But when the sack opportunity arose — Jordan and Galette applied outside pressure and Palmer came up the middle, where Foster dropped him for a 2-yard loss to force a punt on the Cardinals’ first possession of the second half — he felt like doing something, even if it was unscripted.
“That was my adrenaline going again,” he said. “I plan on getting some more this year, so I had better come up with some different moves. I’ve got keep it original but tasteful.”
To Jordan, Foster’s swagger is no surprise.
“That’s Glenn,” he said. “He loves the fans and the fans love him, so I hope that’s him forever.
“Glenn and Tyrunn made a big difference today. They got their opportunities, and they really stepped up.”