Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Finally a Full-on Fullback

John Henry Johsnon, a Steelers great in the 1960s. 
It's good to have a fullback again.  Overlooked in the well-earned acclaim for Rashard Mendenhall is the encouraging play of the Steelers' Will Johnson, the bruising fullback who has quite a story of his own.

The fullback has been missing from the Steelers' offense for years.  Former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians doesn't believe in them, apparently, although tight end David Johnson occasionally assumed the fullback role by default, since the Steelers didn't carry a real fullback on the roster.

Now, with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley this year, the Steelers have a fullback, Johnson.  On Sunday, his contributions as a blocking back were tangible, as Mendenhall got the Steelers' running game rolling again.  Plus, Johnson is likely to improve, as he continues to grow into the role and gain a better feel for blocking schemes, and the running backs get a feel for his advance blocks.

Another overlooked benefit: Johnson's strength as a blocker in pass protection.  The Steelers surrendered no sacks and allowed only three hurries on Sunday.  Granted, Willie Colon was flagged four times for holding, so there's that trade-off.  None of Colon's four holding calls, however, should obscure the value of Wilson's role as a blocking fullback.  He wasn't in on every pass play, of course, but he did a good job when he was on the field.

Will Johnson is no John Henry Johnson, but he is beginning to evoke memories of Dan Kreider.

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