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Not RB, but FB looks to be a fight

May 18, 2007

Yes, Yes, I know. Travis Henry is getting lots of coverage as he goes through his first OTA’s in a Denver uniform. Of course, he will get media attention — he has the glamorous job of running back. However, I think the real fight this year will be at the overlooked position of fullback. Fullbacks never get the attention they deserve even when the RB they block for sets records and wins super bowls. Many Denver fans will remember the great Howard Griffith, but ask anyone on the street and Terrell Davis will be the only back they can name from those years. So, it’s not surprising that very few articles mention the pending battle for the starting FB position. But be ready… because it’s coming.

At fullback this year, we have Cecil Sapp returning from Injured Reserve after he fractured his left fibular bone on Dec. 4th. Before his injury Sapp was splitting time with starter Kyle Johnson. Kyle Johnson took over the FB duties from Rueben Droughns in 2004 and lead the way for several of our last 1,000 yard rusher. Johnson also has great hands and has been called on to catch TD’s in each of the last three seasons with the team (with a total of 8). However, injuries and competition from Sapp lead to only 7 starts last year.

Now, enter the new guys…

Leading the pack of new fullbacks is Troy Fleming. While not expected to blow past Johnson and Sapp, it’s important to note that Fleming played fullback with Travis Henry in Tennessee in both Nashville and Knoxville. That’s right, Fleming blocked for Henry in college at UT as well as in the NFL with the Titans. Now, both Fleming and Travis are in Denver. And with Henry having the starting RB job nearly squared away, the coaches will be keeping a very close eye on Fleming.

And then there’s journeyman Paul Smith. Having played with the 49ers, Lions and most recently the Rams, Smith has shown is versatility by playing RB, FB and special teams. Last year, he helped lead Steven Jackson to the 5th best yardage in the league with 1,528 rushing yards.

Lastly, we have Thump Belton. Belton has spent time on the practice squads of both Chicago and Detroit and now enters his fourth year in the NFL.

Maybe no one’s talking about. And maybe it’s not as flashy as the starting running back job, but one of these guys will get the position and I’ll lay money that it will be a battle worth watching.

Fullbacks at Camp:

#37 Sapp, Cecil 5′ 11″ 229 5th Colorado State CFA-’03
#39 Johnson, Kyle 6′ 0″ 242 5th Syracuse FA-’03
#34 Fleming, Troy 6′ 0″ 245 3rd Tennessee FA-’07
#26 Smith, Paul 5’11” 237 7th Texas-El Paso UFA-’07
#33 Belton, Thump 6′ 0″ 232 3rd Syracuse FA-’06

Line Break

Oh, yeah. The articles on Travis Henry….

Story & Audio on Denverbroncos.com

Denver Post Story

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