|Bengals newest fullback Fui Vakapuna figures to compete against Jeremi Johnson for the starting job.|
Since the season ended, the Cincinnati Bengals have been on the looking to upgrade their fullback spot. Back in February, Carlos Holmes wrote that the Cincinnati Bengals were "enamored" with BYU Fullback Fui Vakapuna. In late March, the Bengals signed Vikings fullback Naufahu Tahi to a one-year deal worth $1.4 million. Since Tahi was a restricted free agent, Minnesota had one week to match the offer. When Leonard Weaver, a fullback targeted by the Vikings, signed with the Eagles, it became clear that they'd match the offer.
The Bengals also took a look at Green Bay Packers fullback John Kuhn. Nothing came from it and eventually Kuhn's agent said that his client is likely staying with Green Bay.
The message was clear. Daniel Coats is not the answer. For his efforts to transform from a tight end to a fullback, it just didn't give the Bengals that point-of-attack block to free up rushing lanes. Chris Perry struggled terribly because of it, but Cedric Benson was able to manage better yardage, which makes you wonder how good Benson is with a good fullback.
In a surprising move, the Bengals brought back Jeremi Johnson for a second-chance. After receiving an injury settlement with Cincinnati before the 2008 season kicked off, Johnson has been out of work. A major knock on Johnson, one that's caused plenty of headaches with head coach Marvin Lewis, is his weight issues. When he comes to training camp, he's overweight and spends most of his time with the training guys to bring down his weight.
If Johnson returns to his old form that enabled Rudi Johnson to break the franchise single-season rushing record twice, the job is his. However, drafting Fui Vakapuna figures to make that a challenging task. No more coming into camp overweight for Johnson, or he could be as gone as quickly as he was signed.
The battle lines are drawn. Vakapuna versus Jeremi, with not-to-be forgotten under-cards Daniel Coats and J.D. Runnels looking for the upset.