Collin Mooney vs Quinn Johnson isn't going to elicit as much emotion as Hasselbeck vs Locker, but it was an important positional battle to watch. Until the battle changed. Those two aren't the only ones duking it out, as Terry McCormick mentioned that Jamie Harper is getting some time at the spot (this was linked in the Daily Links). What that indicates is not that the coaching staff is seriously considering scrapping the fullback spot altogether, but rather that they are considering getting rid of the traditional fullback. I love this idea. Let's breakdown the reasons this move makes sense.
The Fullback Receives Limited Playing Time
How many snaps a game did Ahmard Hall/Quinn Johnson get per game last season? I feel fairly confident in saying that it wasn't a lot. We could cut those plays out of the playbook without a major disruption to the offense, but the Titans won't want to do that. What is an easier alternative is just finding a player that can fulfill the fullback duties on those few snaps. Fortunately I have a few players in mind...
Craig Stevens and Jamie Harper Can Handle the Fullback Duties
Stevens is known for his blocking and Harper is known for being...well...big. Together I think they could handle the job. Someone can fill me in on this since I know very little about the fullback position, but I don't think it would be that big of a stretch for Stevens to add a few FB/H-back plays to his game. The plus side to this is that he's also a better pass catcher than either Mooney or Johnson as well. It'd add another wrinkle to our offense.
Jamie Harper is hard to figure out. He's a big back, but he's not a physical one. That's an important difference. Can he pass block? Reports out of camp indicated his pass blocking wasn't all that good. What I liked from Harper's college film was his hands and agility. I don't think his skills have translated all that well to the pro game, but given the choice I'd probably still take him over a traditional fullback.
There Are Other Players We Want to Keep
Darius Reynaud is the Titans 2012 preseason star so far. He's looked good at both running back and returner, and could provide some flexibility and depth in those areas. We don't know if he'll do anything in the regular season. There are tons of preseason favourites that flame out once they face real competition and perhaps that'll happen with Reynaud. What his preseason showing does illustrate is that he deserves that chance. Once he faces tough competition, then we'll know what we have, and if keeping him is worth it. Right now we can only work off the evidence provided and he's looked good against scrubs and made the most of his opportunities.
We Can Correct The Mistake If Needed
This is the best part of the argument. Even if the worst case scenario happens, the Titans will have a chance to resolve the problem. Maybe Reynaud falls flat. Perhaps the blocking of Stevens/Harper/whoever doesn't cut it. Will both Mooney and Johnson be picked up right away on other teams? Are they really that important that even they sign elsewhere, we wouldn't be able to handle the loss? My proposal would be to simply sign either of them if it becomes clear we do need a true fullback. If they're off the market, there's likely another fullback that can adequately do the job. This seems like a low risk idea.
What do you think? How important do you think the fullback is?