Football Terms – Lead Back – Fullback
The blocking back is utilized in both American and Canadian football. Their primary responsibility is to help open holes for the running back or to stay in the backfield and provide pass protection for the quarterback. In most cases, the fullback position will be called upon to serve as the blocking back.
On the college and professional level, the blocking back doesn’t get many carries. Instead, they assist the offensive line in blocking, ensuring that defenders do not reach the ball carrier. On plays where the halfback carries the ball, the blocking back will often run in front of him and take on defenders who might otherwise tackle the running back.
A halfback may also serve as a blocking back, and many modern formations will replace the fullback on the field with an extra tight end or wide receiver. This depends on the halfback’s ability to block, as a missed block can result in a loss of yardage or serious injury to the quarterback.
Many of the greatest runners in NFL have been fullbacks, however. These include players such as Larry Csonka and Jim Brown.
As of this writing, some of the most respected blocking backs in the NFL include:
- Leonard Weaver
- Heath Evans
- Tony Richardson
- Lorenzo Neal
- Mike Sellers
Some NFL offenses have replaced the fullback or blocking back with the H-back, which is a combination of a fullback and tight end. The H-Back is used as a blocking back who goes in motion (and runs pass routes) more often than a traditional fullback. Typically, the H-back is used on teams which employ a one-back, two tight end offense, and will be largely indistinguishable to the casual fan from the tight end.
The tight end will line up in the traditional spots a tight end does, along the line of scrimmage. The h-back does not line up along the line, but further from the line, often in the backfield. The h-back will provide interior blocking much like a traditional fullback would, but will be sent in motion more often, and sent into pass routes more often than a fullback would.
Here are some H-backs of the recent past and present:
- Chris Cooley
- Frank Wycheck
- Anthony Fasano (when in Dallas)
- Ben Utecht (when in Indianapolis)