The Browns went all of last season without a true fullback on the roster. New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan wants to change that.
Fullback is a position decreasing in stature and population across the league. Chris Pressley, who was signed Monday by the Browns, wants to change that.
“I take it personally that the game wants to look at the position as a devalued position,” he said on a conference call with beat writers. “I think it’s a great position. Obviously, it’s a position I play so maybe I’m a little biased. But it’s a lot of fun. It’s physical, it’s challenging. You can’t come with a half-step at any time, You’ve got to bring your hard hat.
“I think it’s a position that’s going to be here to stay. If I can do anything to help it, I’m going to try to.”
Pressley (5-foot-10, 249 pounds) has played in 43 games with 20 starts in five years for the Bengals and Buccaneers. He has 0 yards on two rushes, along with six catches and a touchdown. He missed all of last season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in December 2012 with Cincinnati.
“I’m ready to come in and show them my best football is ahead of me,” he said. “Last year was just a small step back and I’m ready to come out here and do a lot of great things for the Cleveland Browns. I’m really excited.
“I’ve been able to sit back and look at some of the things on film that I can do better and also just trying to get an understanding of how I fit into the concept and how I fit into the design of the play.”
Norv Turner, the offensive coordinator last year, preferred a fullback but wasn’t given one by the front office. He tried to make do with tailback Chris Ogbonnaya and a combination of backup tight ends, but the Browns lacked the power running game desired.
Shanahan wants a balanced offense that includes a heavy dose of the run in a zone-blocking scheme. Running back Ben Tate was an early addition in free agency and expects to get the ball a lot.
“I think the zone blocking is great as long as we’re on the same page,” said Pressley, the ninth free agent signed by the Browns since March 11. “You’re working against the defense’s strengths. Once you and the back are on the same page, it’s a beautiful thing.”
Tate had a career-best 942 rushing yards in 2011 and has a stout 4.7 average per carry in three seasons. Pressley said it’s up to him and Tate to put in the time and communication to develop chemistry. Pressley went through the same process with BenJarvus Green-Ellis in Cincinnati.
“He’s the guy that I want to get to the end zone,” Pressley said of Tate. “It makes him look good, it makes me look good, it makes the line look good.”
Pressley went to the University of Wisconsin as a running back from New Jersey. He was moved to fullback and joined Browns left tackle Joe Thomas in blocking for the Badgers’ vaunted running attack.
“I think fullback’s kind of underrated, but it takes some intelligence as well as it takes being tough,” Pressley said. “Sometimes you watch film, you see linebackers, see helmets popping, that’s some good stuff.
“To me, it’s being smart, protecting your quarterback, protecting your running back, you’re a glorified lineman back there. Accept the job.”
He admires former fullbacks Mack Strong, Mike Alstott and Daryl Johnston, but he didn’t sculpt his game after them.
“You don’t have to model. You just go in there and bust your head as hard as you can,” he said.