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(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2012 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features fullback Lawrence Vickers.)
Name: Lawrence Vickers
Experience: 7 seasons
Key stat: Vickers played in all 16 games. He had his best statistical game at Philadelphia, recording two rushes for 11 yards and catching two passes for 18 yards, one of which converted a third down.
Contract Status: Signed through 2013.
How He Played In 2012: During DeMarco Murray’s rookie season, it was clear that he had a nice connection with fullback Tony Fiammetta when it came to running the ball. Fiammetta had a nice feel of how to adjust on the move picking up blocks that were missed by the offensive line. There were plenty of times that season where you would see defenders pop free, but Fiammetta was able to adjust off his path and give Murray the opportunity to make a cut to get the ball either around the corner or up inside. Murray and Fiammetta were seeing the same thing vision wise and adjusting scheme wise to help the running game. In 2012, the front office and coaches made the decision to move on from Fiammetta and looked to go in a different direction with Lawrence Vickers, who was signed from the Houston Texans. From what I observed from Vickers’ time with the Texans, it wasn’t as impressive as his time with the Browns. The trait he showed on tape was his ability to catch the ball, but I really thought that he was a hit and miss blocker with the Texans, but again much more consistent with the Browns. For the Cowboys, there were too many times where he wasn’t able to get the movement at the point of attack or adjust like Fiammetta was able to do to free the back in the running game. The way that the offensive coaches used Vickers was in a “Near” or “Far” alignment which was different than the traditional “I” back set. This scheme allowed him to get into blocks quicker but there were plays where he was coming off the ball and catching blocks instead of running through them. When fullbacks catch blocks, it makes the read for the running back difficult. Instead of hitting the hole, they hesitate and it allows the defense to react. I mentioned where Vickers had his best success was as a pass catcher. There were times where he was able to make some surprising adjusting catches in the flat and up the field, but his job on this team was to be a lead blocker and that was where he had his struggles which also led to some struggles in the running game. Vickers played on special teams as well, but really wasn’t the factor as a blocker that he needed to be or the staff expected him to be.
How Does He Fit: I am really not sure where Vickers fits in the plans for 2013, because I did not see a dominant player when he got the opportunity to play. This offense
needs a player that is willing to dig those defensive players out of the hole when the job is called upon. It appeared that the running backs and Vickers really weren’t a good fit together because of his blocking style. If Vickers is going to help this offense, he needs to adjust his style to more of what he was able to do with the Browns where he was a better point of attack blocker otherwise he is no use to this team.
Rowan Kavner – Thinking back to 2012, it’s probably not a positive thing to remember a fullback more for surprisingly acrobatic catches than his ability to block in the hole and guide the way for running backs. Vickers came to Dallas with the idea that he’d be a force in the running game and a bruiser in front of DeMarco Murray who could help alleviate any growing pains of an offensive line that hadn’t played together. As it turned out, that line never panned out in 2012, but the lack of consistent blocking included those in the backfield. Vickers has already been through years of constant pounding as an NFL fullback, and with one year left on his contract, he needs to quickly demonstrate he can still be a guy the Cowboys can count on to get his block sealed and deliver the occasional pancake to an oncoming defender.
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