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Fullback Going Extinct But Not in Green Bay

With the promotion of Joe Kerridge from the practice squad, the Packers are the only team with two fullbacks on the 53-man roster.

There are 19 fullbacks on 53-man rosters.

Only one team has two of them. That would be the Green Bay Packers, who promoted Joe Kerridge to the active roster on Monday. He joins ascending young starter Aaron Ripkowski.

“It was great news,” Kerridge said on Wednesday. “It was a humbling experience. You work every day and that’s your goal is to get that call. It was a humbling experience. Nothing’s changed. I signed a piece of paper. I’m just out there working. Whatever I can do for the team, that’s what I’m going to do.”

What Kerridge will be asked to do is play on special teams. With Ripkowski’s success as a runner, blocker and pass protector, there’s no doubt he is the present and future at fullback.

The Packers, however, need help on special teams. They rank 21st in this week’s Packer Report Special Teams Rankings, a slip of three spots after the kickoff coverage unit’s brutal performance on Sunday against Indianapolis.

At Michigan, Kerridge played special teams from 2012 through 2014 and had 10 tackles. Most of his 14 career starts at fullback came as a senior in 2015.

“He was a phenomenal special-teams guy,” said linebacker Jake Ryan, a teammate of Kerridge for four seasons at Michigan. “He was the lead guy on punt, our fullback on punt. He controlled it really well. I remember him on kickoff return doing a great job. He’s just a smart guy, knows exactly what he’s doing.”

Offensively, Kerridge has been in catch-up mode. An undrafted rookie this year, he spent training camp with Washington. The Redskins released him at the end of camp but kept him on the practice squad. For one day. He was out of the league for almost a month before the Packers signed him to the practice squad on Oct. 3.

As you might expect, it’s hard for a player to learn the offense when toiling on the scout team.

“Coming in without OTAs or camp is difficult,” he said. “Just trying to be in the playbook every single day as long as I can, meet with the coaches whenever I can is what I’m doing. And meeting with Rip. He’s helping me out a great deal in learning the offense. It’s a work in progress.”

Kerridge plays a position that’s not exactly in demand around the NFL. But he’s got his chance in Green Bay — where he took a pre-draft visit. Coach Mike McCarthy has always found a spot for a fullback, whether it was keeping three at one point in his tenure, relying on John Kuhn for several years and now handing the reins to Ripkowski.

“It’s great to see,” Kerridge said. “Rip has done a great job with me. He’s taken me under his wing. He’s helped me with everything — studying with the offense and special teams. It’s great to see fullbacks being able to play.”

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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