IRVING, Texas – Running backs coach Gary Brown thinks a trend that ended last season should continue in 2014.
Brown believes the Cowboys, who talked up the two tight end formation prior to the 2013 season but finished the year with a fullback on the roster, need to keep a fullback this year again.
"I think you do," Brown said. "If you look at the teams who are winning it – Seattle, Baltimore – they all have a running game and they have that fullback in there for that presence, that physical toughness you have to have when you want to close games out."
After using Lawrence Vickers as the fullback in 2012, the Cowboys elected to go without one for much of the 2013 season.
But as the year went on, they started to use other position players in the backfield, particularly near the goal line. Early on, center Phil Costa was an option at fullback, and later in the season it was linebacker Kyle Bosworth. [embedded_ad]
For the last four games of the year, the Cowboys brought on Tyler Clutts, an actual fullback, to fill the role. Clutts is still on the roster and will be competing with J.C. Copeland for the spot, if the Cowboys elect to use a fullback.
Clutts is listed at 6-2, 254, while Copeland, an undrafted rookie fullback from LSU, is listed at 5-11, 275. It was a point of emphasis this offseason to get Copeland's weight down.
"We're trying to get it down," Brown said. "He's gotten down. He looks a lot smaller than he did when he first got here."
While they want to get his weight down, they don't want Copeland to lose the part of his game that makes him great. For both fullbacks, their time to shine will come when the pads get on.
"He's another guy we're not going to see what his full potential is until he puts the pads on," Brown said of Copeland. "His reputation is as a huge blocker. When he gets those pads on, we'll see what he can really do."