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Bears Have Role in Mind for Their Fullback

For the first time since 2018, the Bears have been working a fullback into their offense during OTAs and it appears they have an actual role in mind for Khari Blasingame beyond special teams and short-yardage blocking.

It's been three full seasons since the Bears had a real fullback on the roster and far longer since they had one who made a big impact.

They might have to go all the way back to Jason McKie with the Super Bowl team of 2006 to find one who made any type of real contribution.

It seems the Bears are actually planning for Khari Blasingame to have a real modern fullback role. Will he be a Chicago version of Kyle Juszczyk, blocking or even carrying the ball in an offense using the wide zone scheme like San Francisco? The Bears won't reveal this until the start the season but are hinting at something more involved than playing special teams and blocking in an occasional short-yardage play.

"The fullback position, he's not going to just line up in the backfield," Bears running backs coach David Walker said. "He's going to do some stuff out on the perimeter, as well, and has to understand route concepts when he's out of the backfield and then be able to execute when he's out of the backfield. And so far so good from that standpoint."

At 6-foot, 233 pounds, Blasingame is only slightly bigger than most running backs. In fact, he was smaller than the monster back he was blocking for, Derrick Henry. The Titans' tailback is 6-foot-3, 247 pounds.

Blasingame never played more than 19% of the snaps on offense for Tennessee, 317 total plays over three seasons. He was a contributor with about half the special teams in his time with the Titans.

Teams rarely use fullbacks in modern offenses, but Juszczyk and Baltimore's Patrick Ricard are about the biggest exceptions. Juszczyk was on the field for between 41% and 63% of the 49ers' plays on offense the past five years. Ricard was on the field 57% of plays for the Ravens last year and is a 300-pound fullback.

They had fullback Michael Burton on the roster under coach Matt Nagy in 2018 and used him on only 49 plays after he had played 179 plays in 2017 under coach John Fox. Nagy didn't have use for that position in his attack.

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Ironically, after Burton left he found his way to Kansas City last year to play in the Chiefs offense, the same style attack Nagy brought to Chicago.

The Packers had no one at this role in the past two seasons while Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was quarterbacks coach there but he was there when they made use of fullbacks John Kuhn, Danny Vitale and the appropriately named Aaron Ripkowski.

It would be difficult to see Blasingame playing an extensive role within this offense, but he could contribute in spots.

"What he brings to the team is toughness," Walker said. "You don't have to have pads on to just watch and feel him in terms of toughness. That's from a physical and a mental standpoint."

Blasingame had shown some ability to catch passes in Tennessee but didn't get many opportunities with just 12 targets and 10 receptions for 97 yards. When the Bears played the Titans last year in preseason he caught a 6-yarder and another short pass that he turned into a 50-yard gain.

"Like I said, he's going to be able to do some things for us outside of the traditional fullback role of just being an elite blocker," Walker said. "He's got some skills. He made a great catch out of the scramble drill (Tuesday) and went downfield. He's good at the underneath slides.

"He's a fullback by trade but I wouldn't consider him an old school fullback role where he's only going to be a lead blocker. He can handle the ball and do some things."

Doing anything would be a greater role than the Bears have had for a fullback over the last three seasons.

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