It seems like a long time has transpired since Robert Foster led the team in receiving. Truth is, though, it was less than two years ago.

That was when the severe shoulder injury took away his season and nearly his Alabama career. Foster wasn’t shy about voicing his displeasure about his role, or lack thereof, on the team in 2016.

With a new wide receivers coach in Mike Locksley and a new offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll, Foster opted to return in 2017. Now, the team needs him to have a role this season.

He is one of the fastest wide receivers on the team, but for whatever reason has never put together a full season showing off that skill.

During the Ole Miss game in 2015, Foster dove and landed on his shoulder, putting him out for the season. He’s finally at a place where the shoulder injury isn’t detrimental to his ability.

He’s one of the receivers the team needs to step up this season.

“Robert Foster had a role on the team two years ago before he got hurt,” UA head coach Nick Saban said. “Certainly a guy who would be a real plus for us because of the speed that he has, the vertical ability that he gives us on the outside.

“I think he’s playing better than he did a year ago and hopefully he will continue to improve and have a role on the team. I think we need for him to do that.”

Need production outside of Ridley

Outside of Calvin Ridley, the offense returns just 326 receiving yards from wide receivers and 88 of those yards came from Trevon Diggs, who is now working in the Crimson Tide’s secondary.

Ridley’s 769 receiving yards was second on the team behind ArDarius Stewart, who departed the team and declared for the NFL.

Stewart’s departure expedited the need for Foster, Cam Sims or any number of young wide receivers to play a bigger role this season.

One of those youngsters, Jerry Jeudy, was praised by Saban following Tuesday’s practice.

“Some of the young players…Jerry Jeudy has really done well,” Saban said. “Calvin Ridley has had a really good spring so far and has shown a little bit more leadership. Certainly setting a great example with his work ethic.

“Cam Sims has done a pretty good job. That is certainly a group that we’ve got a lot of good, young players and how they develop will be a key to next year.”

Jeudy has a previous relationship with Ridley, and that familiarity is helping Jeudy into getting assimilated into the offense a little quicker.

“He’s doing really good for his first days,” Ridley said. “I think Jerry is like me when I first got here. (Jerry’s) really good.

“He’s just complete. He’s a full receiver.”

Reach Aaron Suttles at or at 205-722-0229.