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Fullback Vonta Leach Won’t Let Coaches Forget About Him

Posted Aug 22, 2012

With the new no-huddle offense, the Pro Bowl fullback finds himself on the sidelines more.


The Ravens have showed off a new no-huddle, pass-heavy offense early in the preseason. 

For the first two series of Friday’s game against Detroit, the Ravens primarily had three wide receivers on the field and threw the ball on 10 of their first 14 plays.  Having a third receiver on the field during those first two drives meant Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach was on the sidelines.

And Leach made sure his head coach didn’t forget about him.

"All I did was hear him for the first two drives in my ear,” John Harbaugh said on Monday. "He was a little testy about not being out there, which is what you want. You want all of your guys to [want] to play.”

Leach did get on the field during the third series and caught a pass for a 15-yard gain. But the question remaining is how the Ravens will balance his reps if the offense ends up shifting to more a spread approach with three receivers on the field. In those situations, Leach is often the player who comes over to the sidelines.

Leach says he is watching the offense evolve during the preseason. 

"We’re working on a lot of different things to give this offense more possibilities and more things that we can go into a game with,” Leach said. "We have certain plays, certain situations where I’m going to be in there.”

Harbaugh added that the Ravens are trying out a number of different personnel groups during the preseason to see what works, and that the injuries to tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson have also created some limitations.

"We have a chance to be versatile with our personnel groups,” Harbaugh said. "Once we get the tight ends back, we have enough variation in there to mix it up on people.”

Last season, Leach played a pivotal role in helping lead the way for Ray Rice to have the best season of his four-year career. The bruising fullback was Rice’s lead blocker and also had 12 carries of his own in short-yardage situations.

But as NFL offenses have evolved to favor the passing game, the number of teams using traditional two-back sets has declined.

"It’s more of a passing league now,” Running Backs Coach Wilbert Montgomery said. "Everyone wants to see the ball in the air, and the fullbacks don’t get that many reps right now. Fortunately, we have one of the NFL’s best fullbacks in Vonta Leach, but we still have these other guys that demand the ball as well.”

As the game has changed, Leach says that he’s also adapted. He has proven the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and averaged 4.6 yards per reception (15 catches) last year.

That versatility creates more of an opportunity for him to get on the field because he’s not just a component of the running game.

"That just adds another thing to our offense,” Leach said. "When we want to spread team[s] add out and throw the ball, I can catch, so we’ll see how it goes.”

As the Ravens head into the season, Leach said that his focus is to be prepared for any situation or scheme that the coaches want to run.

"We’re just showing a lot of different looks for the teams that have to prepare for us,” Leach said. "Hey, I just have to be ready. Whether it’s the first play or the 19th or 20th play, I have to be ready to play. We have a chance to test it out in the games."

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