Boom, crack, thwap.
The sound and sight of a fullback's helmet thudding into a linebacker's chest is a privilege we've enjoyed as fans of the Cleveland Browns over the last three seasons.
In recent seasons, NFL teams have gone into the season without a fullback on the roster. The Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and Indianapolis Colts currently don't have a fullback listed on their rosters.
Many teams favor multi-faceted players who can man the h-back, tight end, and fullback positions all rolled into one jersey number. These players are often pass catching dynamos who seamlessly fit into the high octane offenses of the current NFL.
Lawrence Vickers is a throwback to another generation. He doesn't rush the football and is rarely used as a receiver, catching only 37 balls in four years. That's about nine per year, for 256 yards and three touchdowns. He has only 76 yards rushing for his career.
Although he is not overly physically intimidating at 6'0" and 240 pounds, he blocks like a man possessed.
With the left side of the Browns line—tackle Joe Thomas, guard Eric Steinbach, and center Alex Mack—they consistently move the line of scrimmage three to four yards off the ball and give the running backs daylight to run.
Consider him the personal bodyguard and GPS unit for the Browns' Jerome Harrison, Montario Hardesty, James Davis, and Peyton Hillis. He has provided these services for Jamal Lewis and Jerome Harrison over the past three years.
In 2007 and 2008, Lewis went over 1,000 yards. Last year, he had 500 and Jerome Harrison had 862 for a total of 1,362 yards.
Mike Holmgren has brought in former Seattle Seahawks Offensive Coordinator Gil Haskell to tutor Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll in the nuances of the West Coast offense.
In some West Coast variations, the fullback is basically a non-entity. The New England Patriots do not employ a fullback in their West Coast offense.
Despite the fact that the West Coast is designed to make use of short passes to set up the run, Mike Holmgren utilized a prototypical fullback, Mack Strong, to open up holes for Shaun Alexander in their version when he was with the Seahawks.
The Seahawks continued to utilize either Mack Strong, Leonard Weaver, or Justin Griffith at fullback until Coach Holmgren's final season in 2008.
Since the Browns intend to create a hybrid synthesis of last year's Browns' offense and the Seahawks' West Coast, there will be plenty of opportunities for Vickers to lower his shoulder pads and blast ahead in the new offense.
Lawrence Vickers will likely continue to have a prominent role in the Browns new offense for this season and, contract willing, many more after that.