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Old 08-10-2007, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone

Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone
Saturday, August 11, 2007

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Steelers have Troy Polamalu, who acts at times like a Tasmanian Devil. And they have Dan Kreider, who looks more and more like a Tasmanian wolf.

The Tasmanian wolf -- not really a wolf, by the way -- has been thought to be extinct for half a century. Still, there have been reported, but unconfirmed sightings, which closely describes the fullback position in the Steelers' offense.

The fullback is not extinct in the Steelers' game plan, but it is on the endangered list and there may be games this season in which they do not dress their only fullback.

Kreider is the one true fullback on the 86-man roster. Two others are halfbacks trying to serve dual roles, John Kuhn and Carey Davis.

All three will be on display tonight when the Steelers play the Green Bay Packers at Heinz Field, but perhaps not as often as in the past at that position.

Fullback once was a glamour job filled by Franco Harris. Then, the offense changed for good when Bill Cowher and offensive coordinator Ron Erhardt arrived in 1992 and installed the backfield scheme that, for the most part, exists on the team today -- one tailback and one blocker, who carries the name of fullback. Or, as coordinator Bruce Arians referred to the position, "guard."

"That's been traditional here with the fullback," Arians said. "He's another guard who hopefully can catch."

Kreider's career statistics will confirm that. He has been with the team since 2000 and been the starting fullback since 2002. He has 30 rushing attempts in the regular season, including one in 2006. He has 59 receptions. He has scored four touchdowns.

Now, he likely will not play as much. Arians will introduce four receivers on occasion on first and second downs with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center and not in a shotgun. They will line up Willie Parker as the only back on more occasions and use more tight ends in the backfield in the old fullback spot as H-backs.

"There will be fewer snaps,'' Arians said of the fullback position.

It's odd in a sense because the Steelers believe Kreider is the best at what he does in the NFL.

"I don't think there's any doubt," Arians said. "For a pure lead fullback, I don't think I'd want anyone else in the league."

Trouble is, as with typewriters, there's not much call for a lead fullback anymore in the Steelers' offense. Diversity and balance is the name of the game and lining up on first and second down in the I formation is outmoded.

Kreider says he understands that.

"Obviously, in the passing game, we have a lot of weapons, and you want to spread it out when you can and let Ben do his work," Kreider said. "At the same time, you still want to be able to run the ball. As it stands right now, they seem to still have the desire for a fullback. We'll see what happens."

Kreider turned 30 in March. By that age, blocking fullbacks normally are done, the victims of crumbling shoulders (Tim Lester) or back problems (Jon Witman). That is what happens when even someone who weighs 255 pounds makes his living running five yards and burying his shoulders into players who regularly outweigh him, whether they are linemen or linebackers.

But Kreider has not had those problems.

"I try to take care of my body in the offseason and during the week. I have someone who does some soft tissue work on me and a chiropractor and stuff."

While Arians does not foresee the fullback disappearing or becoming extinct here, he has developed more alternatives and may actually turn to those at times instead of Kreider on game days.

"The only problem comes on your game-day roster," Arians said.

"If injuries occur and you're short a place or if you want different personnel, that spot right there could be axed if you have a tight end who can do it. On goal line, you can use somebody else."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07223/808742-66.stm
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Old 08-10-2007, 11:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone

Kreider is definitely the best in what he does. I hope he stays beyond this season, he'll most probably have to take the pittsburgh paycut, but maybe he'll accept it after he's accepting a reduces role in the offense
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Old 08-10-2007, 11:59 PM   #3
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Default Re: Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone

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Kreider is definitely the best in what he does. I hope he stays beyond this season, he'll most probably have to take the pittsburgh paycut, but maybe he'll accept it after he's accepting a reduces role in the offense
If the role is reducing, I doubt that they would extend a contract to him. Why fill up roster spots and cap room with a player that won't dress for a number of games? That is where our O is going.
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:03 AM   #4
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Default Re: Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone

I love Kreider. Doesn't complain. Doesn't cry and moan. Goes in there and does his job and does it well. IMO, the guy is Steeler through and through.

But after hearing a few interviews with Kreider, I wouldn't be surprised to see him retire after this season. I guess you can call it a hunch on my part, but the last interview I saw (not even two weeks ago on FSN Pittsburgh), it doesn't sound like Kreider would want to play in a different city. If the Steelers decide to keep him around (which I do not see happening after this year), I could see him sticking around for another year. Pure speculation on my part.
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:19 AM   #5
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Default Re: Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone

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I love Kreider. Doesn't complain. Doesn't cry and moan. Goes in there and does his job and does it well. IMO, the guy is Steeler through and through.

But after hearing a few interviews with Kreider, I wouldn't be surprised to see him retire after this season. I guess you can call it a hunch on my part, but the last interview I saw (not even two weeks ago on FSN Pittsburgh), it doesn't sound like Kreider would want to play in a different city. If the Steelers decide to keep him around (which I do not see happening after this year), I could see him sticking around for another year.
I could see him staying for another year or two... but I do think the role is disappearing.

He may stay to help transition the team
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:21 AM   #6
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I could see him staying for another year or two... but I do think the role is disappearing.

He may stay to help transition the team
I agree. But as we already know, Kuhn doesn't need any help. HOF bound baby, HOF bound.
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Old 08-11-2007, 11:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone

It will be a sad day when the Steelers are playing and I won't get a chance to see Kreider take someones head off. I love watching that guy.
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Old 08-11-2007, 11:37 AM   #8
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Default Re: Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone

kreider + bettis = pure pain for defenses. that was a fun combo to watch.
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Old 08-11-2007, 11:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone

I think Kreider is like Jason Voorhees. He will always find his way back, no matter how many times he's written off. Plus, he has spoken publicly about as often as Jason has during the ten plus Friday the 13 movie sequels.

I have no problem with the new offense that lets Willie run more behind two TE's or a spread offense. The spread offense fits Willie's style better. Still, I would be surprised if Kreider stays inactive for too many games. He is just too damn good at his job. Imagine a scenario wherein Kreider in inactive for a game, and the Steelers fail on a short -yardage or goal-line situation because of a missed block by a halfback or TE. I could imagine Tomlin thinking, “damn I wish Kreider had been in there.”

Again, I’m in favor of the new system. It’s just difficult for a coach to keep a player completely off the field who is one of, if not, the best at his position.
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:04 PM   #10
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Default Re: Fullback spot going, going, not quite gone

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Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
I love Kreider. Doesn't complain. Doesn't cry and moan. Goes in there and does his job and does it well. IMO, the guy is Steeler through and through.

But after hearing a few interviews with Kreider, I wouldn't be surprised to see him retire after this season. I guess you can call it a hunch on my part, but the last interview I saw (not even two weeks ago on FSN Pittsburgh), it doesn't sound like Kreider would want to play in a different city. If the Steelers decide to keep him around (which I do not see happening after this year), I could see him sticking around for another year. Pure speculation on my part.
Let's win the Super Bowl for Dan in the event he does retire.
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