Ravens’ Kyle Juszczyk transcends traditional fullback role
— Fullbacks are an endangered species in today’s NFL.
Kyle Juszczyk knows this. He knew that if could not contribute as more than just a run blocker, his career with the Baltimore Ravens would not have lasted long.
“I think a lot of times, if you’re strictly a fullback, and you can’t contribute in another way – whether it’s special teams or pass protection on third down – you’re probably not going to have a job for very long,” Juszczyk said. “To try and extend my career, I’ve tried to help in as many places as I can.”
Juszczyk helps everywhere. Running backs coach Thomas Hammock called him the team’s best passblocking back. On Tuesday,
head coach John Harbaugh applauded his special teams.
“Kyle is one of our very best special teams players – Top 5 at the worst,” Harbaugh said. “That’s really versatile to have an offensive player that plays like a linebacker on special teams. He has embraced the other part of it, too. He has played a lot in different spots.”
Juszczyk had his best offensive season in 2015. He led all NFL fullbacks in receptions (41), yards (321) and touchdowns (four). Harbaugh referred to Juszczyk as a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ because he is capable of doing so many different things.
“It hasn’t fazed me at all,” Juszczyk said of playing so many roles. “I might be listed as a fullback, but I don’t know if I really have one position on this team. I’m going to go wherever they put me and wherever I can help, and I’m going to contribute as much as I can.”
In Baltimore’s offense, he could be considered a tight end in many formations. Juszczyk, a fourth-round pick in 2013, has especially filled that role in this year’s training camp because of a high number of injuries to the Ravens’ tight ends.
“He is a legitimate blocking fullback. We all know he has the ability to catch the football out of the backfield; he did an excellent job of that last year. He can do certain things on the line of scrimmage,” offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said. “We had him in the flats and the sidelines. We will continue to utilize him up the field, and he is transitioning into playing on the line of scrimmage as well. He is really considered one of our tight ends, as well, in a lot of our formations.”
Juszczyk’s versatility is key to landing a roster spot. The Ravens have four running backs expected to make that roster and likely as many tight ends. Juszczyk gradu- ated from Harvard with a degree in economics, but he doesn’t need that to see the odds are against him.
“It would be easy to look at how many tight ends we have. We have a plethora of them – great players. You look at how deep our running backs are this year. I think we probably have the best group that I’ve been a part of the last four years,” he said. “It’s easy to wonder where you might fit in, but honestly, at the end of the day, I just know that if I take care of what I can do and I perform at my best, I’ll find my way on the field. The coaches will find a way to get me in there. It’s not necessarily in my hands. I just know if I take care of my job, it will take care of itself.”
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Kyle Juszczyk is listed as a fullback, but plays a much larger role for the Baltimore Ravens.