The Redskins went into the pre-training camp break with the same 90 players they had on the roster prior to OTAs. That means that Darrel Young remains the only fullback on the roster.
Some might look at that as good news for Young. Not having competition for your job could take a lot of the pressure off. But not if your job could be eliminated.
According to Football Outsiders Jay Gruden’s Bengals lined up in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) on 40 percent of their plays and in 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) on 43 percent.
So on 83 percent of the offensive plays the Bengals utilized just one running back. And almost all of the running back snaps went to tailbacks Giovani Bernard (627 snaps, 51%) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (472 snaps, 38 percent). Two players took snaps at fullback and they both were very much part-timers on offense. Orson Charles, listed as a tight end, played 67 snaps (5%) and Domata Peko played 16. Peko also started 16 games at defensive tackle.
If Gruden plans on using the fullback in a similar manner, he may decide not to keep a fullback on the roster at all.
He could use training camp and the preseason to evaluate his options. Tight ends Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul have lined up at fullback from time to time in the past and almost certainly will line up there in July and August. Perhaps Gruden will seek out some to fill the role that the 6-3, 322-lb. Peko did in Cincinnati. How would outside linebackers react to seeing Chris Baker (6-2, 325) barreling towards them on a kickout block?
One important difference between the 2013 Bengals and this year’s Redskins should be noted. In Cincinnati Gruden had one Pro Bowl tight end in Jermaine Gresham and a first-round pick in Tyler Eifert. Here Gruden does have Jordan Reed, who has Pro Bowl potential. But Paulsen and Paul are role players and Gruden might not want to run with two tight ends as frequently as they did in his old job.
Because of that and due to the fact that he is a valued contributor on special teams, odds are that Young stays around this year. But Gruden will have plenty of practice and game reps to experiment with alternatives so Young’s 2014 status remains up in the air.