The Eagles made yet another fullback move yesterday, and in keeping with the team's "Go Green" initiative, we're recycling what we said the last time they tried to address the position: For a team that barely uses a fullback, they sure are picky.
What do the Eagles want their fullback to be? Well, they want a great pass-catcher, who blocks like a guard and doesn't mind if he never carries the ball from scrimmage, or if he remains stuck to the sideline two-thirds of the time the offense is on the field. He needs to be a kick-butt special teams guy, too. Hard to imagine why finding such a person would be such a challenge.
Starting Monday, running back Tony Hunt is now one of the guys slamming his helmet into linebackers' midsections, on behalf of Brian Westbrook. The pessimist would say the Birds are desperate to find some sort of role for a 2007 third-round draft choice from Penn State, whose 51-yard cutback touchdown run in Thursday's preseason win over Carolina showed that he does have ability, despite being buried on the depth chart behind Westbrook, Lorenzo Booker and Correll Buckhalter.
The optimist would say that Hunt, listed at 6-1, 227, has the size and the athleticism to do what the Eagles feel they need their fullback to do, even if he isn't quick enough off the mark to be a great NFL runner.
In case you haven't been following this entertaining, convoluted journey, the Eagles first signed Dan Klecko, a defensive lineman and linebacker who had played a little goal-line fullback, with the idea he would be a full-time fullback, and a special teams upgrade over Thomas Tapeh, whom they allowed to go to Minnesota in free agency. Minicamps soon showed Klecko running pass patterns to be an ugly sight. So they moved Klecko back to d-tackle and traded for his former Colts teammate, Luke Lawton, who is listed generously at 6-0, 240. Lawton has bulging muscles and vivid tattoos, but hasn't generated a lot of buzz.
The other two contenders are former practice squadder Jason Davis (5-10, 245) and rookie free agent Jed Collins (listed at 6-1, 255, yet definitely not as tall as Hunt).
"I just want to play," said Hunt, who correctly sees this as a chance to jump into a much better competitive situation. "Brian's going to play (at running back) and there's not really much room for a lot of other guys to play."
Switching positions is best done before minicamps, not three weeks before the start of the season. But it isn't like Hunt is moving from offensive tackle to safety, or something.
"Yes, it can be done," Hunt said, with firmness. "Maybe it would have been better (earlier), but that's not what it is. They did it now ... playing running back, you know the fullback position. Most things are the same. You're in the same meeting room (when coaches are talking to the fullbacks). It's not really much of a change."