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O'HARA: Bellore a good fit for switch to fullback

Baseball and football have one thing in common.

There's always a place for hitters.

Nick Bellore has made a position change with the Detroit Lions – to fullback from linebacker, where he played primarily his first seven pro seasons -- because his experience as a hitter on defense and special teams can fill a need on offense.

It's not an entirely new position for Bellore. He played fullback sparingly last season in addition to his regular duties at linebacker and special teams.

The switch to fullback is full-time basis this year. Head coach Matt Patricia has restored the fullback to the offense.

While just about everything is different between offense and defense – terminology for play-calling, formations among them – hitting and the mentality that goes with it is common to fullback and linebacker.

"It's the old hammer and the nail analogy that we hear a lot about, and you're thinking every time you go head to head with one of those guys," Bellore said. "It's really an attitude play most of the time, when the fullback and linebacker are hitting each other.

"It's kind of low man wins and all the clichés, which are kind of true in those scenarios. It's kind of a race to see who can hit the other one first, lower and harder. It's always a test of your manhood, but it's fun."

Adding the fullback is part of the overall plan of Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn to build a stronger, more physical team, with a specific goal to beef up the running game.

Quinn drafted fullback Nick Bawden of San Diego State to be part of that plan. Bawden sustained a season-ending knee injury in an offseason workout. Bellore already was getting work at fullback.

Bellore was a good fit to switch to fullback based on his work in his previous seven NFL seasons, not just his limited role last year when he played only 13 of the team's 1,041 offensive snap at fullback. He also had 106 snaps on defense -- with two starts at linebacker -- and 308 on special teams.

View photos from Day 6 of 2018 Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage.

Bellore made the Jets' roster in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan, where he was a tackling machine on the Chips' defense. He spent four seasons with the Jets and two with the 49ers before signing with the Lions last season as a free agent.

"He's just been a really good football player," Patricia said. "Whatever his role has been out on the football field, he's executed at a high level. He can really transition from the different sides of the ball.

"He's a smart guy and finds it and sees it and has good vision. He's just a good, solid football player. You always like guys like that. Tough guy. Smart guy – you try to find someplace on the field for him."

Practicing in pads in training camp has given Bellore a better feel for how the running game will benefit from two additions, veteran LeGarrette Blount and rookie Kerryon Johnson.

"I thought they look awesome," Bellore said. "Obviously, LeGarrette is a load. Kerryon can do it all. They're both kind of still in the infancy of learning the offense. We all are. Once we get it all hammered down, it should be great.

"We have to run the ball. That's every team in the league. It only makes your offense better. We just know we have to run the ball better."

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