One of the fullbacks on the Eagles' roster was a defensive tackle last season for the Indianapolis Colts, and one of the tight ends was a fullback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
If that seems odd, it's because it is.
Who knows if it's going to work? We will not have the answer until the summer is fading away.
For now, the former defensive tackle (Dan Klecko) and the former fullback (Kris Wilson) are receiving an education in the Eagles' West Coast offensive scheme. It continued yesterday as the team resumed a camp for rookies and selected veterans at the NovaCare Complex.
Even though fullback has never been the position next to Klecko's name on the roster, it is not completely foreign to him. Shortly after New England drafted him out of Temple, three spots ahead of cornerback Asante Samuel in the 2003 draft, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told Klecko that it might be a good career move to learn a position besides defensive tackle.
That position turned out to be fullback, and he was used by both the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in goal-line situations during his first five NFL seasons. Belichick's advice came back to burn New England two seasons ago when Klecko caught a touchdown pass in the Colts' 38-34 victory in the AFC title game.
Five years into his career as a defensive tackle, Klecko has just three sacks as opposed to two receiving touchdowns, so maybe a career move isn't such a bad idea. He has embraced the chance to add to that TD total, and he is well aware that being a full-time fullback is a lot different from being a defensive tackle thrown onto the field to be a lead bowling ball in goal-line situations.
"I don't want to say it was a novelty before, but my first four or five years, it was just on the goal line," Klecko said. "Now, you've got to do all the little things right. It's not just, 'Oh, it's Klecko. We hope he doesn't do that in a game, but we'll live with what happens.' Now, you've got to catch the ball, you've got to run the routes right. Now, I've got to know it, because it's my position."
The real test for Klecko won't come until the Eagles get to Lehigh in a couple of months. The pads will start popping and he will be competing with Jason Davis and undrafted rookie Jed Collins. For now, it's all about learning the position that was vacated when Thomas Tapeh left as a free agent and signed with the Minnesota Vikings.
"It's like being a rookie in high school," Klecko said. "I know a couple of little things about being a fullback, but everything else has to be taught to me. That's what is going on right now. I'm just a rookie keeping my mouth shut and my head down."
He also happens to be a rookie with three Super Bowl rings, having been part of two championship teams in New England and one in Indianapolis.
As for Wilson, the move from fullback last season with the Chiefs to tight end this season with the Eagles does not figure to be all that difficult. Wilson, a second-round pick by the Chiefs in 2004, considers himself a tight end who learned how to play fullback. He was thrust into a starting role at fullback last season with the Chiefs when Ronnie Cruz suffered a knee injury, but he said he never stopped practicing at tight end.
Wilson thrived at tight end during his college days at Pittsburgh, scoring nine touchdowns as a senior in 2003 and 15 in his collegiate career.
"Fullback is something that I kind of added on," Wilson said. "I'm comfortable at tight end. I'm a tight end."
The fact that he's going to concentrate on being a tight end with the Eagles this season is a welcome change for Wilson. When the Chiefs drafted him, coach Dick Vermeil said it would be a good idea for him to learn some other positions because the starting tight end was some guy named Tony Gonzalez.
"I do have a lot to show at tight end," Wilson said. "My opportunities have been limited up to this point. My hat goes off to Tony. He just seemed to keep getting better. There was never anything between me and him. If anything, we had a good relationship. He pushed for me and he pushed me and I pushed him.
"When I was drafted, there were definitely questions in my head as far as what exactly the plan was for me. Nobody drafts a guy in the second round and anticipates that he won't play."
Wilson will compete with Matt Schobel for a job and with Brent Celek for playing time, but right now he is learning the offense.
"It's a different language as far as how the plays are called in the huddle," Wilson said. "Football is football, so a lot of the concepts of the plays are the same, but it's a completely different language, so I have to get used to a different set of words and terminology. It just feels good to be down the field again."
See video of
Dan Klecko from minicamp at http://go.philly.