One matter of interest for the Cincinnati Bengals during OTAs this week, is the application and implementation of James Wilder Jr in the role of backup fullback. Bengals running backs coach Kyle Caskey, who has a heavy hand in developing Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, is helping change and reform Wilder's running style -- we're talking about a guy that's 6-foot-2 and nearly 240 pounds who runs a little too vertically. In addition to changing his style, the team is playing out a scenario where Wilder could contribute in other ways.
Per the mothership:
Wilder, a college free agent from Florida State, spent all last year on the practice squad and impressed as a potential bruising big back. Backs are evaluated on getting out of and getting away from tackles and a fullback is graded on blocking, so all that won’t be seen until training camp. But Wilder is a thick kid that seems to have enough upside to interest them.
Wilder left college after winning the 2013 National Championship at Florida State, forgoing his senior season. During his final collegiate season, Wilder generated 579 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference Honorable Mention.
Don't worry. Ryan Hewitt is the team's primary/starting H-back -- which really means nothing in this context because he's playing the traditional role as a fullback. The Bengals believe Hewitt is one of the best fullbacks in the NFL, and Pro Football Focus ranks him in the top-five. In 2014, Hewitt played 427 snaps -- which ranked third-most in the NFL behind the 49ers Bruce MIller and the Ravens Kyle Juszczyk.