The Cleveland Browns have signed fullback Chris Pressley, the team announced today.
Pressley was the Cincinnati Bengals‘ main fullback in 2011 and 2012 but was waived on Dec. 10, 2013. The 5-foot-11, 249-pound bruiser is coming off of a knee injury he suffered against the Philadelphia Eagles, keeping him out the entire 2013 season.
The ex-Wisconsin Badger spent his first two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the next three in Cincinnati. Pressley, who has 20 career starts in the NFL, is expected to be the Browns’ feature blocker for newly-signed RB Ben Tate.
Like many NFL teams, last season found the Browns running a more modern fullback position, resorting to reserve tight ends and converted RB Chris Ogbonnaya, who struggled at times with the punishing position. They even went as far as letting defensive lineman Billy Wynn lead the way on a few short yardage plays.
Pressley, who feels his best years are yet to come, should fit well under new head coach Mike Pettine’s philosophy of toughness. He may have only run the ball twice for zero yards and caught six passes for 28 yards and a touchdown over 43 games, but in 2012, Pressley was ranked sixth out of 25 fullbacks and helped fellow running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis lead the NFL, converting 14 of 15 times on third-and-one plays.
With Cleveland’s offense set to have yet another look this season under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the team was in need of a traditional fullback. Pressley’s willingness to sacrifice his body and ability to clear a path is a good move to fill another void for the Browns.