There Aren’t Any True Fullbacks on the Roster. That Doesn’t Mean The Lions’ Fullback Position Is Dead.
Over the offseason, the Detroit Lions released fullback Michael Burton. Most considered Burton to be among the better players at his position, so his release appeared to be the end of the Lions’ fullback position entirely.
Over the last few seasons, the coaching staff utilized the Lions’ fullback sparingly. Even on the goal line, the Lions deployed a lot of formations that involved numerous receivers rather than opting for the more power oriented personnel. This could have been, in part, due to the Lions lack of power running a game, or any running game at all, but the release of a well-respected player at the position indicated that the Lions’ fullback position might be dead entirely.
Detroit Lions training camp seemed to indicate that this is not necessarily the case.
Matt Asiata, Cole Wick, and Tion Green all took reps at the Lions’ fullback position over the course of Detroit Lions training camp. There could be a couple different reasons for this.
The first reason could be that the Detroit Lions plan on deploying the offense in a similar way to last year. The Lions’ fullback position would still be used at the same rate, but without using up a valuable roster spot to keep a pure fullback. By using Matt Asiata or Tion Green as the Lions’ fullback, the team could retain the position and the formations that require it while also adding a little extra power to their backfield. By using Cole Wick as the Lions’ fullback, the Lions could retain both the fullback position and potentially open up the option to roster another tight end.
The second reason could be that the Lions are just testing some guys out and seeing if they want to scrap the fullback position entirely. It is still possible that Jim Bob Cooter is working diligently on adjusting his playbook and schemes from last year and deciding if he wants to continue using these formations. If that is the case, the season may begin and these looks that Matt Asiata, Tion Green, and Cole Wick are getting might prove insignificant. Cooter may just deploy these formations less frequently.
Regardless of the reasoning, the Detroit Lions’ fullback position, for now, is still alive, and there are a couple of potential players that could fill that role. Cole Wick, Matt Asiata, and Tion Green are not locks to make the 53-man roster. The possibility of a Lions’ fullback position opens up a little more opportunity for those guys to make the roster.
Tion Green can still move to the practice squad. Matt Asiata, on the other hand, cannot. It will be interesting to see how the Lions use or don’t use the fullback position as the preseason develops. It will likely play a role in who sneaks into the back end of the 53-man roster.