Bucs LB Mason Foster nearing return

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have the quarterback of their defense back for Sunday’s game with Baltimore.

Middle linebacker Mason Foster said Wednesday he’s optimistic about his chances of playing against the Ravens. Foster has missed the last three games with a dislocated shoulder. He said he expected to practice fully Wednesday afternoon.

“I’ll get a chance to run around and hit people in pads," Foster said. “I feel good, so it’s looking good."

Dane Fletcher has been starting in Foster’s place. But the team also used Danny Lansanah at middle linebacker in Sunday’s overtime loss to New Orleans. Lansanah had an interception return for a touchdown. Fletcher also had been calling the defensive signals, but the team switched that duty to weakside linebacker Lavonte David against the Saints.

Getting Foster back would be a huge boost for the Tampa Bay defense. He’s one of the team’s veteran leaders, and the defense has struggled without him.