Texans running back Arian Foster rushed for 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns last season behind starting fullback Vickers. Foster had seven games with over 100 rushing yards and three games with 30 or more carries. Foster is an elite running back, having rushed for 2,840 yards with 26 touchdowns the last two seasons.
Vickers was released by Houston when the season was over. It was an interesting decision by the Texans, given they signed Vickers to a two-year deal after the 2010 season. But salary-cap concerns forced the franchise to make hard decisions, which also included letting star linebacker Mario Williams go in free agency.
"It was a shocker, I was shocked," Vickers said. "I was shocked. Then by Foster getting his (new) deal I would think there’s more reason you got somebody that’s going to protect him. I guess they just didn’t value the position. I guess that’s what it is."
It's not like Vickers is a one-hit wonder, either. As Cleveland's fullback in 2010, he led the way for Peyton Hillis to rush for a career-high 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But Vickers hit the free-agent market and signed with Houston for the two-year deal.
After 2011 ended, Vickers was placed on the open market and sought a team that valued the fullback position. Enter the Cowboys, who have always employed a fullback on the roster. When DeMarco Murray emerged as a talented force at running back last season, he praised the work of then-fullback Tony Fiammetta.
There was a thought Fiammetta would return to the Cowboys, but that changed when Vickers became available.
"That's why I'm here, because they value the position," Vickers said.
With Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner and Murray as the running backs, Vickers said he has to adjust his game for them and not the other way around. Developing a chemistry with the running back is key to any successful running game when a fullback is involved. Vickers said he has to see the holes just like the running back does, or create one when there's a wall.
"It's just the same approach, even if I was going to be with the same guy," Vickers said. "You approach it the same way, every year. So it never changes, always approach each year the same way as if we’re just meeting each other and we've got to get on the right page. Chemistry is a must, even being with somebody two or three years, chemistry is still the same. You're going to have different linemen and you're going to be going against different defenses (with) different things going on."