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The Bears Fullback Revival

Khari Blasingame brings mutiple talents to the new Bears fullback position even if the main requirement is being a human battering ram.

Every team in the NFL's exclusive fullback club hopes to have a Kyle Juszczyk.

The 49ers 31-year-old fullback has spent his career as a combination battering ram/surprise ball carrier/receiver, a multipurpose load of trouble for defenses in an age when spread offenses have rendered the position nearly obsolete.

It's not a position where players are trained as much as where they are created, and as such the path to the NFL of Bears fullback Khari Blasingame is typical.

"I ain't had no problem with it being old school," Blasingame said. "I'm cool with that."

It's not fullback like the Bears had with Matt Suhey or Rick Casares, a player who could just as easily carry the ball as do anything else on the field. Blasingame's role will largely be blocker, but they explore other uses out of the backfield.


Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and coach Matt Eberflus like the position as opposed to only a tight end lining up occasionally as a lead blocker in the backfield.

"Because it creates more gaps in the running game when you have that lead back in there, and you certainly have to be mindful of that defensively," Eberflus said. "Are you (on defense) going to play nickel? Are you going to play base? What are you going to do to those different personnel groups, 12 or 21, whatever that might be. Yeah, it's a big advantage for the offense to have that guy."

Blasingame started out not as an offensive advantage but as a defensive player and eventually became a running back at Vanderbilt before converting to fullback.

"Just going into the process, I kind of knew that as a bigger back coming out of college that I was going to have to make that transition," Blasingame said. "Not have to, but there was a role I could fill. Ever since college my whole thing has been to get on the field.

"I was a safety coming into college. Came as a free safety, moved to linebacker and then moved to running back again. So adaptability has always been something to help me get on the field. Moving to fullback was just another way to adapt and get on the field and provide value and keep playing football as long as I can."

A 6-foot, 233-pound fullback blocking for Titans load back Derrick Henry isn't likely to get more uses than battering ram and Blasingame didn't. Blasingame had 10 receptions in 12 targets and three runs in four seasons as Titans fullback, but the Bears already in practice saw his potential for disruption as a receiver. He caught a deep pass leaping along the sidelines in one scrimmage.

"That's great, to be able to stretch the field with a fullback," Eberflus said.

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The role is largely expected to be more mundane than deep receiver and the beneficiaries from his blocking are running backs David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert, Trestan Ebner and Darrynton Evans.

"Carrying is cool, but I did a lot of that in college, so I got my fix," Blasingame said.

Blasingame takes some pride in being such a rarity in the league. He has followed the careers of other fullbacks closely, like former Chargers power blocker Lorenzo Neal, Juszczyk and Minnesota's C.J. Ham.




"Absolutely," he said. "There's, what, seven of us, really, in the league. There's a lot of fullbacks around the league but not a lot of teams utilize it heavily, so I definitely take pride in being in position to prove I can be relied on to make plays for the offense and help us run the ball and be one of those guys like a CJ Ham. Like a Juszczyk, that gets used and provides value for the offense."

In fact, he calls it a tight-knit, small group.

"We haven't got together but I feel like whenever you play a team with a fullback, at the end of the game when everybody daps ups, we all go show love and talk to each other," Blasingame said. "I mean, I follow like all of the guys on Instagram and Twitter and just kind of keep up with them. Me and (Miami's) Alec Ingold actually trained together for the combine, so we keep in contact.

"It's kind of like a small fraternity of dudes, because (there's) not too many of us. Any time someone is doing well, you show love and try to keep up."

That being the case, the Bears are counting plenty of love coming Blasingame's way from other NFL fullbacks this year as they try to be more physical with their running game.

"Yeah, man, it takes all 11 in the run game," he said.

Even when one of the 11 is playing at a position very few other teams have.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven