Are Fullbacks Still Significant in New England?

According to ESPN's Paul Kuharsky, "With two fantastic tight ends on its team, New England used a fullback on 10 snaps last season." Former Offensive Coordinator Bill O'Brien (now Penn State University head coach) clearly did not see the fullback to be a useful tool. With O'Brien gone, and Josh McDaniels taking the reigns, the coach who led Brady to his record breaking 2007 season will keep the fullback from being phased out of the offense.

Tony Fiametta (24) was picked up by the Patriots
in free agency this year, a sign that
the Patriots have given some thought to
a fullback in the offense.
(image via:
During his stint in Denver, McDaniels utilized the fullback in both the air and ground games, producing numbers for a severely overrated quarterback in Kyle Orton and a lackluster running back in Knowshon Moreno.

Stevan Ridley is poised to have an explosive year, showing all the signs in camp that he will be the New England Patriots' lead back. And of course there's that Tom Brady guy, who will without a doubt have yet another great year in the prime of his career.

Tony Fiametta and Spencer Larsen are competing in training camp for what I believe will be one roster spot. I can't see New England holding onto more than one fullback, due to the need for depth at the tight end position. I see the team using whoever wins the competition similarly to how Heath Evans was used in 07-08.

In my opinion Fiametta is the better player of the two, but having played in Denver, Larsen has an advantage due to his familiarity with the system. Either way, count on Josh McDaniels to find a way to incorporate the fullback into a dominant offense, to add yet another threat for defenses to worry about. The fullback isn't going anywhere in New England just yet.