When Bradie Ewing came to practice on Tuesday after being out with an undisclosed injury, Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith was excited to see his new starting fullback return to action. Not many people know who the second-year player out of Wisconsin is, but to the Falcons, they see a player who will be an integral part in maximizing their offensive capabilities.
“Bradie is going to be an integral part, not only in our offense, but on special teams as well,” Smith said.
As we all know, the Falcons’ ground attack was next to nothing in 2012, but the Falcons believe that Ewing will help lead the way in terms of blocking for his new teammate in Steven Jackson.
Although Jackson is considered to be one of the better running backs in the NFL, having an athletic fullback that can dish out crushing blocks to opposing defenders will be a huge plus unlike Michael Turner, who found himself tripping over his fullback half the time.
Last year, Ewing was out for the whole season due to a knee injury. Ewing beat out fellow teammate Patrick DiMarco for the starting fullback position, and is eager to be healthy and make his debut against the Tennessee Titans in their third preseason game.
“It felt good,” Ewing said on Tuesday after practice. “It’s been a little while. I was a little rusty, but it felt good to be back out there with the guys and getting into some game prep for Tennessee.”
Two things that Falcons’ fans should know about their new fullback is that he will be a huge upgrade over their previous fullback Ovie Mughelli, and will possess the athleticism and skill that the Falcons require in their up-tempo offense.
The main job for a fullback is to be the “Lead” blocker for your tailback and create running lanes for the runner. Instead of creating space in traffic for previous running back Turner, Mughelli became the traffic on multiple occasions that either went for zero or negative yards.
Fortunately for the Falcons this year, Ewing is known to be a “Bruising”, physical blocker that gives your spine chills. Not only should Ewing be able to create space for Jackson on the first level of the defense, but on the second level of defense as well.
Another area that Ewing should be able to help immediately is their screenplays. Last season, Mughelli was either too slow or not athletic enough to get to his blocking assignment against defensive ends and corners. In Ewing, he already showed before he went down with an injury his athleticism to stay out in front of opposing defenders and assist the tailback in ripping off huge chunks of yards.
A third skill that really boosted Ewing into the starting position is his value as a receiver. Unlike his predecessor, Ewing possesses soft hands and is a much better receiver than most give him credit for.
During the regular season, should the Falcons’ ground attack improve emphatically, don’t forget to notice Ewing. Jackson may receive most of the praise, but no runner becomes great without a great lead blocker.