Bengals interest in Fahu Tahi displays a big need at fullback

If the Bengals make a run for Naufahu Tahi, there's a chance that he and cousin Fui Vakapuna could reunite.

Earlier this morning, Jake wrote a post in response to a report that the Bengals have inquired about Minnesota Vikings fullback Naufahu Tahi, who is a cousin with current Bengals fullback Fui Vakapuna. As Jake points out, Tahi has been on the Bengals radar since last year when Cincinnati signed Tahi to an offer sheet that the Vikings eventually matched.

Cincinnati's interest has a lot to do in response with Jeremi Johnson entering the free agent market, with a side order of long frustration in the fullback. Johnson is often criticized for often coming into camp overweight, forcing trainers to work with him to get into shape while the rest of the team works and prepares for the season. We've always suspected that once the Bengals find a replacement of equal with Johnson's above-average run blocking skills, his time in Cincinnati would finally come to an end.

But the inquiry into Tahi surfaces a definite need with Cincinnati because Fui Vakapuna is the only fullback signed to the team's roster. Vakapuna, drafted by the Bengals in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft, was featured in HBO's Hard Knocks as he, Chris Pressley, Johnson and J.D. Runnels competed for a spot on the roster. Johnson made the squad, Pressley signed to the team's practice squad (and eventually signed away by Tampa Bay) and Vakapuna and Runnels were waived. Arizona signed and kept Vakapuna on their practice squad until Cincinnati brought Vakapuna back in early November, placing him on the 53-man roster. He was inactive every game since his return.

As Jake points out, the Vikings gave Tahi a low offer that would pay him $1.2 million in 2010. If Tahi signs an offer sheet from Cincinnati and the Vikings elect not to match this time, there would be no compensation. And we have to believe there's stronger motivation to join the Bengals for Tahi with cousin Fui Vakapuna hanging out in Cincinnati.

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