Lions have options to fill fullback role

Posted Aug 7, 2014

We know the Lions will feature a fullback in their offense this year, but what kind of fullback they choose is yet to be determined.

We know the Detroit Lions will feature a fullback in their offense this year for the first time since 2010, but what kind of fullback they choose is yet to be determined.

The team does have options.

--There’s the traditional fullback and the road grader that is Jed Collins.

--Montell Owens is the most versatile of the bunch. He can play fullback, he has some skill as a ball carrier and is a two-time Pro Bowl special teamer.

--Chad Abram is the young, athletic rookie.

Over the course of the next four weeks the Lions will figure out which one fits their offense the best.

“We’re an offense that utilizes the fullback on and off through the ball game, so it’s an important spot for us,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “Fortunately those three guys have the experience and background, and have done quite a bit. 

“Montell is a very, very multi-faceted guy. He does a little bit more than a fullback for us, and that’s even excluding the special teams work. Jed’s been around the block, he’s been in this offense for a while, he has a good feel for it, and does a nice job adjusting to some of the difficult parts of it.” 

It will be a different look for the Lions offense this year as they'll feature a lot more two tight end and two running back looks than in years past.

This is an offense that can still spread teams out and throw the ball around a little bit to Calvin Johnson and others, but offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is stressing flexibility, and the fullback plays a role in helping with that.

“The fullback has a place in football and I think throughout the league they’re understanding that,” Collins said. “They tried to kill it off for a little while, but clock management, controlling the ball and running the ball are all positives with a fullback. You need to utilize what kind of ground and pound and tough-guy mentality they have.”

Both Collins and Owens were undrafted players coming out of college and never had anything handed to them. So both players know a role on this team isn’t going to be handed to them without earning it.

“I see a world where Montell and I are both here and I see a world where neither of us are here,” Collins said. “You have to prepare and mow your own grass and take care of your own, but I’m hoping they want what Jed Collins can do.”

Which is?

“Lead blocking,” he said. “That’s what I’m known for and that’s what I’ve done for the last few years of my career. Being able to get some push in short yardage situations and stuff like that and then when needed be a utility guy out of the backfield. A guy that can get up in the hole and linebackers know I’m coming.”

Montell OwensFB Montell Owens (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Owens brings much to the table in terms of his all-around game and it would be a tough decision to part ways with him. The Lions missed him both on and off the field last year when he sat out nearly all season with a knee injury.

“I'm more of a hybrid guy,” Owens said. “You’ll see me on both ends of the deal, not only at tailback but you’ll also see me at the fullback.

“The fullback role within this offense is really going to be something that brings another element. The more you can do on offense, the more looks you can get into, the more packages you can have, the more time a defense has to spend in practice. It’s definitely going to bring a nice element."

Lions fans will get their first look on Saturday at what the fullback is going to look like in this offense. At the same time, Lions coaches will begin to assess what kind of fullback fits their scheme the best.