Crockett broadening his role

"It's funny because we keep going back to the two-back offense discussion. Not only is he a blocking back but you look at the Kansas City game and see that what he does as a runner is pretty special. We'll continue to utilize him not only as a blocker but as a runner." -- Raiders head coach Bill Callahan

            Could Zack Crockett be more than just a short yardage guru that plays special teams as well for the Oakland Raiders?

            The feeling here is that Crockett will wind up with that role again but he is getting an opportunity to broaden his role in training camp. Crockett is competing with free agents Cecil Martin and Chris Hetherington for the starting fullback job.

            To the surprise of many people, Crockett was penciled in as the Raiders starting fullback to replace the departed Jon Ritchie, who went to Philadelphia as a free agent.

            "It's funny because we keep going back to the two-back offense discussion," Oakland head coach Bill Callahan said. "Not only is he a blocking back but you look at the Kansas City game and see that what he does as a runner is pretty special. We'll continue to utilize him not only as a blocker but as a runner."

            Callahan was referring to Oakland's 24-0 shutout win over Kansas City in the regular season finale. That game was the only time the entire season where Crockett carried the ball in situations other than short yardage. Crockett carried 11 times for 72 yards and a touchdown in that game.  

Crockett carried the ball 40 times during the regular season and produced either a first down or touchdown on 24 of them. Crockett carried five times in three playoff games and scored a pair of touchdowns.

Crockett having a chance to become the Raiders' starting fullback can be a plus and a minus. The good part is that he may get the chance to develop a consistent rhythm that comes with being a starter.

The downside has established himself as a valuable short yardage specialist. Then again, the role of the fullback declined last season in the Raiders' offense as they went to more three-receiver sets.

"We have the ability to play two-back but we're primarily a one-back offense," Callahan said.

            Do not be surprised, however, if Martin ends up starting. Crockett is capable of playing fullback but it would not be a surprise if he returns to his role as the Raiders' short-yardage specialist. Very few, if any, players in the NFL can rival Crockett's excellence in that role.

          He only sporadically entered the game but generally produced something positive when he was in the contest. Crockett's performance can be best described as maximum efficiency.

So, Crockett may just get the chance to continue as a short yardage guru anyhow.

         Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com


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