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Morning Links: Fullbacks a dying breed

10/3/2013

Good morning. ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha offers an interesting read this morning on the NFL’s endangered species. He takes a closer look at certain types of players or positions that are becoming obsolete, including the fullback position, the apprentice quarterback, the workhorse running back, the hard-hitting safety, the pocket passer, the blocking tight end and the kicker returner.

Some of these positions, such as the blocking tight end and the pocket passer, I don’t see going away, because teams still need players with those skill sets to effectively move the ball on offense. But Chadiha raises some interesting arguments for some of those other positions fading away. The Chargers have a fullback on their roster in Le’Ron McClain, but he only played in six offensive snaps last week against Dallas.

Here’s what Baltimore fullback Vonta Leach had to say about the dwindling numbers at his position.

“The thing that keeps me around is my versatility. I can run block and I can catch passes out of the backfield. Most of the guys who play the position can only do one or the other. But anybody who knows football knows how important the fullback is to the game. We set a tone for the offense. And the position will still be important going forward, even if fewer teams use it. For one, some running backs just can't run without a fullback in front of them. There's also always going to be a need for a physical presence in your backfield. As wide open as this game is getting, that doesn't change the fact that you're still going to have goal-line and short-yardage situations. And when those situations come up, teams are going to need players who can help them convert.”

An excerpt from a new book by ESPN investigative reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru reveals the NFL’s consistent denials, until recently, that concussions were a serious player issue in the league. This is definitely worth taking a look at.

ESPN’s Dan Graziano has Jake Locker and Ryan Tannehill in the top 10 on his weekly MVP watch, but no Philip Rivers? Interesting. In fairness, Graziano limits his candidates to teams with winning records, which is 10 teams heading into Week 5.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland gives consideration for Rivers has his comeback player of the year through a quarter of the season, but goes with Baltimore pass-rusher Terrell Suggs.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes the San Diego Chargers should trade for Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The UCLA product is 28 years old, and in the final year of a contract that pays him $4.95 million this season. Oh, and he’s averaging 2.4 yards per carry. Yeah, I don’t see that happening.

ESPN’s Paul Guiterrez reports that Terrelle Pryor will start at quarterback for the Raiders on Sunday, and Matt Flynn has been demoted to the team’s No. 3 quarterback.

Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego talks with injured Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd, who says he’s plans on getting healthy and returning to the field in 2014.

Ricky Henne writing for the San Diego Chargers' website profiles new receiver Lavelle Hawkins.