Since Drexel just took a look at the running back situation, let’s follow that up with a look at those guys’ backfield mates, the fullbacks.
Well, make that part of the time backfield mate. Per the data collected by Football Outsiders and available in Football Outsiders Almanac 2009, the Titans had only a single back in the backfield 59% of the time, and almost all of the time that lone setback was either Chris Johnson or LenDale White. That’s actually slightly more multi-back sets than the Titans had run the previous two years, but even still, the Titans’ fullback will be spending the majority of the offensive snaps sitting on the bench.
Well, sitting on the bench half the time and making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year sounds like a pretty good deal, even if you have to play special teams, as a Titans’ fullback does. After all, it’s a heck of a lot better than Afghanistan, as Ahmard Hall could tell you.
Ahmard’s been the Titans’ fullback the past three seasons, since beating out Troy Fleming in a mild surprise in training camp of 2006, joining the team out of the University of Texas and previously the United States Marine Corps. While he won’t ever be the starter on a fantasy football team (his 138 yards receiving and 21 yards rushing in 2008 tied his career highs, and his 2 TDs were the first he ever scored), he’s been a very reliable player for the Titans. At 29, turning 30 in November, he’s old for his amount of NFL experience, but he’s signed through 2010 at very reasonable base salaries of $900,000 and $850,000, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t again put in a very reliable job as the Titans’ main fullback this fall.
The only other player officially listed at fullback on the roster is Casey Cramer, who rejoined the team before the playoff game against the Ravens after being cut at the end of training camp and spending the 2008 regular season with the Dolphins. Despite being listed by ESPN as a running back, Cramer is strictly a blocker who played more H-back during his previous Titans tenure than as a straight fullback, and is more of a special teams player than that. I doubt he has a very good chance of making the team, between Hall’s presence and the four TEs-his stiffest competition may actually come from somebody like LB Colin Allred in a special teams role.
While he’s not listed on the position on the depth chart on the official site, and Drexel discussed him in his running backs post, Quinton Ganther is the other player who deserves mention here, as he’s seen action at fullback where Hall has been shaken up and in garbage time. Ganther’s versatility at RB, FB, and special teams remains his best and perhaps only shot at making the roster.
Really, it’s tough for me to see much overhaul at this position. Hall hasn’t shown any signs he doesn’t deserve to return, and I don’t think Cramer or Ganther is anywhere close to surpassing him as a fullback. I doubt Cramer’s around come opening night in Pittsburgh, and Ganther’s pretty iffy as well.
What say you? Any reason this isn’t as predictable as I think it is?