San Diego Chargers 2009 Roster Breakdown: FBs
When you think of an NFL backfield, fullbacks are usually in the back of one's mind, if at all.
San Diego's is probably no different, but the current crop of fullbacks are instrumental in opening running lanes for the more recognizable faces in the backfield, and for protecting the team's quarterback.
Here's a look at the current depth chart.
Hester impressed GM A.J. Smith in his college days with his versatility. The former LSU running back was regarded as one of the best receivers out of the backfield in the school's history.
Since arriving to the Chargers, though, Hester has seen his role reduced to a more traditional fullback role, having to block and come out of the backfield as a rusher or receiver only on a very limited basis.
In 2008, his rookie season, Hester carried 19 times for 95 yards, a five yard per carry average. He also caught 12 pases for 91 yards, scoring two touchdowns for the year.
As the year wore on, he got more touches, as evidenced by his eight carry, 37 yard (and 1 TD) performance against Denver, that also featured two receptions for 19 yards.
Pros: Excellent hands, good speed, is a viable threat to run or catch the ball at all times, good special teams contributor, can play as fullback, halfback or H-back depending on the situation, has also been used as slot receiver.
Cons: Although he displayed better blocking in the playoffs, has been known to be overpowered by bigger players, lacks solid footwork that allows him to be consistent upper-body blocker, dropped a few balls on pass plays.
Season Outlook: Though he is not the bulldozing inside blocker that LaDainian Tomlinson once had in Lorenzo Neal, Hester is a serviceable fullback that provides another good card in Philip Rivers' deck of offensive options. Look for Hester to be more involved in this year's offense, as he came on strong to end 2008.
Starting into last season as the surprise starter at fullback, Tolbert is the latest in a long line of undrafted gems in San Diego's lineup. The former Coastal Carolina fullback impressed coaches and teammates alike in the preseason and made the team as LaDanian Tomlinson's primary blocker out of the backfield.
An injury in the second half slowed him down and allowed for the emergence of Jacob Hester, who filled in at fullback for the most part for the latter part of the season.
At 5'9" and 243, you wouldn't expect Tolbert to be a big threat coming out of the backfield, but opposing defenses found that the assumption was a wrong one the hard way, as Tolbert racked up 171 yards on 13 receptions in 2008, including a 67-yard catch against Denver in Week Two.
Pros: Traditional fullback physique with good blocking skills, equally adept to protect on rushing and passing downs, proficient weapon out of the backfield, due to size, not usually picked up by opposing defenses as a potential receiver.
Cons: Lacks speed to block on outside rushes consistently, injuries picked up in 2008 could be a concern due to position he plays, not a good consistent rusher.
Season Outlook: A healthy Tolbert is very likely to fight Jacob Hester for the starting fullback spot as he is a better blocker than Hester and a threat out of the backfield to make plays happen. Ideally, a platoon will emerge out of the two.
Equally likely to line up as a tight end or fullback, Wilson serves as a jack-of-all-trades of sorts for San Diego, backing up the two tight ends and fullbacks while seeing more playing time as a special teams member.
Released by Philadelphia last season, Wilson was picked up by the Chargers and did not see action with the Bolts until Week 15, on special teams.
Pros: Showed to be a good receiving tight end in his Kansas City days, mix of strength and tackling instincts serves the Chargers well on special teams and as potential backup fullback.
Cons: Slow even for his size, has missed significant time in career with injuries, with good depth charts at FB and TE, could be limited to special teams duty.
Season Outlook: Wilson is an insurance policy in every sense of the word. Should injuries plague San Diego's blocking backfield or tight ends, Wilson will be there to fill in. Otherwise, look for him on kickoffs and punts.
A former Consensus National Champion in his Florida days, Latsko made an NFL roster for the first time in 2007 by joining the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent.
Following his release from the Panthers, Latsko signed with the Steelers before returning to the Panthers. Now, as a San Diego Charger, Latsko has yet to see any action, but is being courted to fill in on special teams.
Pros: Former weightlifting letterman in high school, possesses great upper body strength that allows him to overpower defenders and make tackles on special teams, has big game experience from his college days.
Cons: Hasn't seen meaningful action on a football field since 2007, slow, never carried ball consistently at a high level, very limited speed and mobility.
Season Outlook: Latsko will have to play his heart out in preseason to impress Chargers coaches that he deserves to stay on the team, even if it is just on special teams.
An undrafted free agent signing, William Rentmeester is a former Wisconsin University fullback brought in as an undrafted rookie.
In his college career, Rentmeester carried 26 times for 116 yards and a TD.
Pros: Described as tough bruiser who often makes highlight reels with crushing special teams tackles.
Cons: A specialist at this point, doesn't have speed or mobility to keep up with NFL defenders coming out of a three-point stance as a ball carrier or a blocker.
Season Outlook: Rentmeester is in the running to make the special teams squad and will battle Wilson and Latsko for that third fullback spot.