Ciatrick Fason says he hasn't had to change much to go from a highly regarded – if under-utilized –running back at the University of Florida to a rookie trying to prove himself in the NFL.
"I ain't changed my style at all. I don't think the speed changed from the SEC (Southeastern Conference) to here, so there's no reason to change my style," he said. "It's just about being patient and letting things open up."
If last Friday's performance in the Vikings' preseason opener was any indication, Fason's abilities will translate well into the NFL.
He had a 25-yard run in the second quarter, showing a burst of speed and the vision for the cutback lane, and later followed that with a 1-yard dive into the end zone in the fourth quarter. It is his ability to cut back while keeping his momentum going forward that might be Fason's best asset early on.
"Coach (Mike) Tice always tells us, ‘Look for the second hole. Don't always look for the front side; it's usually going to be the back side.' So I looked at the front side and it was clogged a little bit, so I looked at the back side. … I just tried to use my speed and hit the corner, and once I hit the corner it just felt like it was time to be a power runner," he said.
"A lot of people thought when I was coming out that I was more of a power runner and ran inside a lot. But I can do both – I can slash and make people miss. I think I've got my own style of running. I kind of do like Gale Sayers, but when it comes to hitting somebody I try to do like Eddie George, so I kind of mold my game after two players."
Fason tried to use his power running game at the goal line against the Chiefs, but on his first attempt from the 1-yard line, the hole closed quickly and his dive was thwarted. He tried again on the next play, finding success for the Vikings' final score in a 27-16 win.
He said he wasn't surprised the hole closed so quickly the first time around because he was used to that going against two Pro Bowl defensive tackles – Kevin Williams and Pat Williams – in practice.
Still, Fason didn't change a thing from his first plunge to the second one.
And he doesn't plan on changing much from his college style to his pro style. He's simply hoping to keep the preseason-opening momentum going and become a solid game-day contributor.
"I don't talk much, but (Tice) came up to me earlier and said, you started to talk more once the game comes around. Once we come under the lights, I just to go out there and help the team the best way possible. (Tice) said before the week started that the twos and three were going to play a lot and he needed a lot of people to step up and make plays," Fason said. "Taking the drive over, I told people to roll with me, that I was going to try to make plays. I feel like every time I get the ball I can make a big play. I just want to try to score every time I get the ball. A lot of good things opened up. I saw a lot of backside cuts, the O-line shielded their blocks real good and I just made a lot of big plays."
Indeed. He finished the opener with 55 yards on seven carries, a 7.9-yard average.
Tice already knew what he had in Fason in May when he said, "(Fason) has shown an ability to go forward. He's not a dancer, he's more of a Moe Williams-type runner."
If Tice compares Fason to Moe Williams and Fason said he styles himself after Sayers and George, that debate isn't likely to be solved anytime this year. But so far, in one preseason performance, Fason has made a strong start.
Fason Showcasing Two Styles
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