On Friday, I posted my preview of the running back and fullback positions as part of our positional previews series. I drew the conclusion that Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw would share the starting duties, Donald Brown would be the third back and rookie Kerwynn Williams would be the fourth back mainly in a special teams role. I also said that, while I really like both fullbacks on the roster, I think that Stanley Havili will make the final roster and not Dan Moore.
Let me just start off by getting this out of the way: that is still exactly how I expect it to turn out. Nothing has changed.
But in the comments of the article, many people mentioned the idea of keeping both Havili and Moore and releasing not only Delone Carter but Donald Brown as well. It was commenters "Le Poulain Francais" and "Chapman will Hug You" that first brought it up, and from there it really took off:
Most people seemed to really like the idea. And I do too. I love it, actually. But I highly doubt it happens. That said, however, I thought it was an interesting enough topic to explore a little further.
First off, what role will the fullback play this year? George Bremer mentioned on our own Tyler Brooke's Colts Central podcast a few weeks ago that in offseason work, fullbacks were being used perhaps 35-40 percent of the time. That's a lot, especially for a team that hasn't used a fullback in, well, a long time. But this is a new offense and a new regime, so comparing it to the past really is useless. The fact of the matter is that going forward in Pep Hamilton's new offense, a fullback will be a big part of it.
So what does Hamilton want in a fullback? Well, one of the biggest thing that he wants from all his backs is versatility, from what I'm hearing. That means a guy who can contribute in more than just one way. It is very safe to assume that Hamilton wants a guy at fullback who can contribute in both the running and passing game. Especially with Andrew Luck at quarterback and a shorter passing game being put in, a fullback who is a threat in the passing game would be a tremendous plus.
Thus the Colts brought in two fullbacks this offseason, and both of them are good at running the football, blocking, and catching the ball.
Stanley Havili (6-0, 245 pounds) was drafted by the Eagles in the 7th round of the 2011 draft, but spent the 2011 season on the practice squad. Last season he played in 15 games and started 2 for the Eagles. He carried the ball only 6 times for 22 yards and a touchdown and caught 7 passes for 43 yards, but he did what the team asked of him. He wasn't a stand out player but he was a solid player in his first year of NFL action. The Colts traded for him this offseason, giving up DE Clifton Geathers.
The USC product excelled with the Trojans, even being named co-captain for his 2010 senior season. As Mark Sanchez's roommate during the quarterback's time at SC (we won't hold it against him...), Havili set the USC record for most career receptions for a fullback. He rushed for 343 yards and 2 touchdowns in his career and also added 894 yards and 10 scores in the receiving game.
Havili can play fullback, running back, can catch the football, and can play special teams - in other words, he would help the Colts out in a variety of ways.
The other fullback is Dan Moore (5-11, 257 pounds), an undrafted free agent out of Montana. The Colts actually brought him in for a pre-draft visit and then signed him after the draft concluded. He played in the Texas versus the Nation All-Star game and participated in the NFL Super Regional Combine in Dallas and had an impressive showing, running a 4.63 40 and bench pressing 225 pounds 31 times. He rushed for 991 yards and 12 scores in his career there, and also provided solid production in the passing game too. Aaron Wilson of scout.com mentioned that he is "known for his strong work ethic and character."
Moore has been compared to a John Kuhn type player. The Colts roster actually list him as a running back on the roster, but he has been playing almost exclusively at fullback. He too is a versatile player in the backfield, but more so as a running threat. Moore can double as a running back if need be and can carry the football. So, in essence, he can double as the short yardage back the Colts wouldn't have if they released Delone Carter.
So would the Colts consider keeping both Stanley Havili and Dan Moore on the roster? Havili would provide a great help from the fullback spot in the passing game and would provide solid play in other aspects as well, and Moore would provide a short-yardage back type role while also being a solid lead blocker for Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw. I love the idea of keeping both, and the Colts should at least consider the possibility - which I'm sure they will.
Keep in mind that both Donald Brown and Delone Carter are both replaceable. Brown was essentially replaced by Bradshaw, a back with pretty good speed and who can utilize it much better than Brown. Rookie Kerwynn Williams is also a speed back and could fill in for a short time if need be.
Carter was the team's short-yardage back and played well in very limited chances last year, but it is very clear that the coaching staff is not very high on him at all. Carter is the common guess to be the one released in the Brown versus Carter debate, and that guess is dead on. But what about releasing both of them? Carter could be replaced as the short yardage back by the fullbacks Havili and Moore, but particularly Moore.
The main issue with this idea is the injury concerns that Ahmad Bradshaw has had. If he were to get injured this year, it would leave Vick Ballard and Kerwynn Williams as the only true running backs on the roster, and I really don't feel comfortable enough with Williams to expect him to fill in well in that capacity. While Brown wouldn't be a great option there, he would be better than Williams.
Add to that the fact that the coaching staff still likes Brown and hasn't given up on him (unlike with Carter) and I would say that he probably will be on the roster come the start of the regular season. Could the team keep four running backs and two fullbacks? Absolutely. But I wouldn't count on it. They might try to stash one on the practice squad to start the season.
I hope that both Stanley Havili and Dan Moore make the 53-man roster, I really do. But I think that it is more likely that they have a camp battle for the fullback spot and the other one lands on the practice squad, there in case the other should get hurt.
Regardless of what happens, though, I like the idea of keeping both guys at fullback and think that it could work. Will the Colts consider it? I'm sure they will. Will they do it, though? That's another question completely, and one that I'm much less certain about.