Kyle Juszczyk is more than just a battering ram of a fullback.
The third-year player combines his job duties as a blocker in the trenches with the ability to get out of the backfield and impact in the passing game. Juszczyk is known for his hands, and he hauled in 19 passes last year in his first season as a starter.
He hopes to see that number make a big jump this year.
"Every year you kind of set a goal for yourself," Juszczyk said. "Last year I was averaging around 1.5 catches a game. This year I'd like to maybe be on the side of two or more per game. I'm shooting anywhere from 32-plus."
Juszczyk points out he added six catches in the postseason to give him a total of 25 for the season, and he hopes that playoff bump is a sign of things to come in 2015.
He has reason to expect key involvement in the passing game. New Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman has a history of featuring running backs as pass catchers, and Bears running back Matt Forte caught 102 passes last season under Trestman.
Juszczyk and starting running back Justin Forsett are both well aware of Forte's success under Trestman, and they see potential to haul in more receptions after recent practices in Organized Team Activities.
"There's time now where a short flat route to a back can be Joe's first read, where last year maybe it wasn't," Juszczyk said. "And there have been times where Joe has just gotten it out quick this year. I do kind of get the sense that there could be more of that."
While Juszczyk is certainly open to seeing more passes come his way, his first priority is still as a blocker. The Ravens ranked eighth in the NFL with 126.2 rushing yards per game last year, and Juszczyk played a key part in that success.
He finished as a top alternate for the Pro Bowl in his first season as a starter, and he's focused on building off that initial success.
"Each year brings on a new challenge, and I think in Year 3 it's just kind of refining my craft," Juszczyk said. "As a fullback, specifically, it was more getting on my guy and staying on my guy, and this year I'm going to focus a little bit more* *on trying to move my guy out of the hole where I can get Justin or whoever is back there the extra couple of inches to kind of make things easier for them."
Juszczyk is onto his third offensive coordinator in as many seasons, but the changes have been minimal for him this offseason. Juszczyk said "it feels like [Trestman] has been here for a while," and he has high expectations for what the offense can do after the best season in team history.
"It's been great," Juszczyk said. "You stick with what you're doing. What we had worked, so you just want to keep building on that and just work on little things. We're trying to be great in the details."