Wow, I can’t believe former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins enrolled at Villanova University, joined the basketball team as a forward, and finished his senior year by hitting the game-winning shot in the National Championship Game. From blocking field goals and stuffing runs, to a magical run for college basketball’s biggest prize.
Today we’re starting a new series here at OA, because the critically endangered pro fullback position is one or two ACL injuries from existing only in captivity.
Since he took over the Patriots, Bill Belichick has been a coach who loves fullbacks– from Marc Edwards to Patrick Pass and Larry Centers (More on all these guys at some point) to my personal favorite, Fred McCrary, great Patriot teams of the past fifteen years have often featured versatile fullbacks.
McCrary played at various times between 1995 and 2007, but that included a one-year stint as a prison guard. The fullback was one of the best in the game in terms of blocking, but was never well-known for his running and receiving skill: In parts of eleven different seasons, McCrary averaged just 1.2 yards per carry on 25 attempts. He rushed for one career touchdown, as a rookie in 1995.
He was slightly more prolific as a pass-catcher, snagging 113 balls for 646 cumulative yards. He appeared in 6 games in 2003, earning a ring for the champion Patriots, before moving on to Atlanta and subsequently Seattle. There he played his final game in 2007, and mostly appeared as a special teamer. McCrary was one of the toughest guys in the game for over a decade, and he typifies the lunch-pail fullback that came to define the later part of the 90’s and early aughts.
Take your top three from the myriad quarterbacks who began the season as backups, but have re-emerged as starters due to injury and/or incompetence. Personally, I’m rooting for Gabbert and Hasselbeck. I like Yates as well, but his situation is subject to change as Hoyer is further evaluated for his post-concussion symptoms this week.
If we assume that Ryan Fitzpatrick, who just had surgery, returns against the Texans on Sunday as expected, then Geno Smith doesn’t make the list.
Last night, the Texans, on the road against the then-undefeated Bengals, were down 6-3 when quarterback Brian Hoyer went down with a concussion. Hoyer’s status going forward is currently unknown, but while the Independent Neurological Consultants (Buzzword joke of the year, by the way) were looking at Hoyer, Houston’s defense forced Cincy to punt, and TJ Yates checked back into the league.
For those uninitiated with the Yates tale, this is TJ’s second stint with the Texans. The Marietta, Georgia native attended UNC, and was drafted by Houston in the 5th round in 2011. His rookie season was his most successful–relieving the injured Matt Schaub, Yates played in six games, starting five of them, and won Rookie of the Week for his playoff-clinching performance against Cincy in December, 2011.
That year, Yates led the Texans to their first ever playoff victory, when they beat the Bengals in the wild card round, 31-10. Houston lost the following week to the Ravens, and sadly for Yates, that was his last start in the league. He was later traded to the Falcons, and eventually ended back with the Texans after they released Ryan Mallet in October.
Will TJ Yates make another start–perhaps next Sunday against the Jets? This week will tell. But if Brian Hoyer can’t go, Houston should take solace–TJ Yates is a capable NFL quarterback. And unlike Andy Dalton, he’s won a playoff game.
RapSheet got it first–look out folks! With Whitehurst in the mix, should the Colts turn it over to Clipboard Jesus, or continue to start Hasselbeck (who, by the way, is 2-0 as a starter this year)?
Deadspin had a great article at the beginning of the season, which compared the careers of longtime backup quarterbacks to evaluate which second-string signal callers have had the easiest/cushiest careers. That of Whitehurst, who has made over $5 million going into this season, HAS to be near the top.