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Analysis: Durability a factor at fullback

3/14/2012

IRVING, Texas – Tony Fiammetta quickly became something of a legend last year as the Cowboys’ lead blocker for DeMarco Murray.

It seemed the move to a more traditional fullback helped open up avenues for the running game that the Cowboys did not have with their tight ends serving as blockers. And the stats backed up the thought.

But Fiammetta could not stay healthy. He missed five games last year. He missed eight games in his first two seasons with Carolina.

As much as the Cowboys wanted to keep him, they did not want to pay him $1.26 million as a restricted free agent. They had talks with his agent about a multi-year contract that would have been more cap friendly but when one did not materialize they decided not to tender him a contract.

That made Fiammetta free to sign elsewhere but it also made the Cowboys free to shop elsewhere.

They signed Lawrence Vickers to a two-year deal Wednesday, leaving him unemployed for not long after Houston cut him. Vickers is older (he turns 29 in May) but he’s bigger and he has shown to be more durable. He has missed just two games in the last three years in opening holes for Peyton Hillis in Cleveland and Arian Foster last year.

The decision to sign Vickers shows that Jason Garrett believes there is something to having a true fullback on the game-day roster.

But it also comes at a cost and the Cowboys did not want to overpay for a guy that would play 15 or so snaps a game.