Position Battles: Determining The Roster Limit At RB


This is a position that has me the most perplexed going into training camp, because I am not sure if the front office and coaching staff will carry three running backs and one fullback or four running backs and no fullback. 

There is no question in my mind that DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar are locks to make the final 53-man roster, but this is where it gets tricky. Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams and Ben Malena are all talented players and bring a different set of traits to the game. In these OTAs and minicamps, we have seen running backs coach Gary Brown divide the snaps between Randle and Williams, with the rookie Malena getting what he can.

What I like about Randle is his willingness and toughness to bring the ball downhill and attack the defenders. I believe Williams has more quickness than Randle and his running style is more of a slasher, hitting the hole, than making a quick cut. Williams is more likely to take the ball hard to the front side, than bend it all the way back. What is interesting about Malena is that, for a guy his size height-wise, he has a combination in style of both Randle and Williams.

Where Randle has an advantage over Williams is his ability to catch the ball in space without slowing up to make the adjustment. In studying Randle, you can see the confidence in his hands and how natural he is in catching in them. Williams doesn't have poor hands, he is just as not as natural.

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If you had to rate all three as a blocker, I would say it is Randle, Malena than Williams. Even while at Arizona, this was not a strength for Williams. Randle has also had his issues at times with his technique – particularly in 2013 -- and from what I was able to observe from Malena at Texas A&M, his lack of height limits his effectiveness more than his willingness to get the job done. This third running back on the roster is going to have to be a special teamer as well. The advantage in this case would go to Malena, who was a standout in this role at A&M.

At fullback, veteran Tyler Clutts and rookie J.C. Copeland will battle for a potential spot on this roster. Neither Clutts nor Copeland were able to show much during the OTAs and minicamps because the squad wasn't wearing any pads.

Clutts has a history of playing special teams in the league, so that will help his cause. What will help Copeland is that there is plenty of college tape of him at LSU as the lead blocker for one of the top rushing teams in the nation. He can be a physically overpowering blocker that can wear down defenders the more opportunities that he gets.

Gary Brown has come out and made it known that he would like to see a fullback make this final 53 but there is no guarantee of that being the case and that spot is going to have to be earned especially if there is a need to go long at another position.             

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This is a position that has me the most perplexed going into training camp, because I am not sure if the front office and coaching staff will carry three running backs and one fullback or four running backs and no fullback. 

There is no question in my mind that DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar are locks to make the final 53-man roster, but this is where it gets tricky. Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams and Ben Malena are all talented players and bring a different set of traits to the game. In these OTAs and minicamps, we have seen running backs coach Gary Brown divide the snaps between Randle and Williams, with the rookie Malena getting what he can.

What I like about Randle is his willingness and toughness to bring the ball downhill and attack the defenders. I believe Williams has more quickness than Randle and his running style is more of a slasher, hitting the hole, than making a quick cut. Williams is more likely to take the ball hard to the front side, than bend it all the way back. What is interesting about Malena is that, for a guy his size height-wise, he has a combination in style of both Randle and Williams.

Where Randle has an advantage over Williams is his ability to catch the ball in space without slowing up to make the adjustment. In studying Randle, you can see the confidence in his hands and how natural he is in catching in them. Williams doesn't have poor hands, he is just as not as natural.

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If you had to rate all three as a blocker, I would say it is Randle, Malena than Williams. Even while at Arizona, this was not a strength for Williams. Randle has also had his issues at times with his technique – particularly in 2013 -- and from what I was able to observe from Malena at Texas A&M, his lack of height limits his effectiveness more than his willingness to get the job done. This third running back on the roster is going to have to be a special teamer as well. The advantage in this case would go to Malena, who was a standout in this role at A&M.

At fullback, veteran Tyler Clutts and rookie J.C. Copeland will battle for a potential spot on this roster. Neither Clutts nor Copeland were able to show much during the OTAs and minicamps because the squad wasn't wearing any pads.

Clutts has a history of playing special teams in the league, so that will help his cause. What will help Copeland is that there is plenty of college tape of him at LSU as the lead blocker for one of the top rushing teams in the nation. He can be a physically overpowering blocker that can wear down defenders the more opportunities that he gets.

Gary Brown has come out and made it known that he would like to see a fullback make this final 53 but there is no guarantee of that being the case and that spot is going to have to be earned especially if there is a need to go long at another position.             

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