On Monday, the Cleveland Browns came to terms with fullback Chris Pressley. Pressley, 27, was previously with the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers but hasn’t played in an NFL game since December 2012. By signing Pressley, the Browns now have a traditional fullback on the roster, possibly solidifying their backfield.
Last season, the Browns had semblance of a running game and used running back Chris Ogbonnaya as a lead blocker. The experiment failed and Cleveland ran for only 1,383 yards as a team. Now with Pressley, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will have a FB to pave the way for RB Ben Tate. The latest addition in Cleveland answers the question of whether the Browns will continue with a converted player at the position.
Along with Tate and Ogbonnaya, the Browns currently have running backs Dion Lewis, Edwin Baker, Jamaine Cook, and Fozzy Whittaker on the roster. Head coach Mike Pettine has mentioned that Cleveland could look to add a RB to the roster via the draft. Typically, NFL teams carry three running backs and one fullback on the 53-man roster, so the Browns will have decisions to make leading into the season — especially if they choose a running back in May’s draft.
It can be assumed that Baker, Cook and Whittaker’s days are numbered in Cleveland, while Ogbonnaya and Lewis’ futures are uncertain. Lewis is coming off a 2013 season in which he suffered a broken leg in the preseason and spent the year on the IR. In theory, the Browns have the right mix of running styles with Tate, Ogbonnaya and Lewis. Tate, who will be Cleveland’s featured back, is a balanced RB in that he possesses good speed and a tough running style. Lewis, 23, is a speedster who can provide a change of pace to throw off defenses. Lastly, Ogbonnaya is a bigger back who’s capable of catching passes out of the backfield.
If the Browns plan to draft a running back next month, it will be interesting to see what attributes they’re looking for in a rusher. Like most teams, Cleveland has kept its draft plans extremely secretive, making it tough to estimate if and when the Browns will take a RB. Although their draft questions are yet to be answered, the Browns made the definitive decision to give their running backs a full-time run blocker in 2014.