I've still wondered what the team's new offense would mean for traditional fullbacks -- guys without much running ability. It's a subject we discussed on the blog in May, and one I raised with Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates as camp was beginning.
Seattle's base personnel group on offense does feature two backs, including a traditional fullback, but the team is expected to use two tight ends extensively (at the expense of a one-dimensional blocking back).
"When we were at Denver, we ran a lot of base and then all of a sudden our running backs got hurt, so then Peyton Hillis had to play tailback and we lost our fullbacks," Bates said. "We are going to be a base running team. That is part of the personnel group. We're going to have a fullback in there and he's going to have to block and be able to get out on the edge and run keepers, also. We will definitely use a fullback. We have some great eight-man runs where we don't have to check it or anything. We can just call it and run it. Having a fullback back there helps you block the safety."
Bates' offense owes its roots to Mike Shanahan, his former boss in Denver. The chart shows how many fullbacks and running backs the Denver Broncos kept on their opening-day rosters under Shanahan from 2004 through 2008. Bates was on those staffs beginning in 2006.
"In the zone-running offense, the offensive line [runs] a lot of stretch," Bates said. "The one guy who is going to punish somebody is the fullback."
Jones, Justin Forsett, Leon Washington and Ganther appear likely to earn roster spots as running backs. Keeping Schmitt or Powdrell would give the team five total backs, a common number on 53-man rosters. Teams usually keep between four and six backs. Louis Rankin is also competing for a spot at running back.