Like most FBs, Hall labors in shadows
Long before Ahmard Hall became the blocking escort for NFL leading rusher Chris Johnson, the Tennessee Titans' fullback epitomized a man who was more concerned about the accomplishments of others than with his own achievements.
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So he knows a thing or two about playing second fiddle -- actually, third fiddle with the Titans because even backup tailback LenDale White is better known.
Which makes Hall a terrific fit as a fullback. "It really is a selfless position," Hall said. "The way the position is structured now, you're kind of an extension of the offensive line, a guard who just happens to wear [a back's uniform number] and to be lined up in the backfield. But that's OK with me. I'm just happy to be playing."
Pro Bowl FBs with fewer than 10 carries
Ahmard Hall, the escort for NFL leading rusher Chris Johnson of Tennessee, wouldn't mind making a trip to Miami in late January for the Pro Bowl. "Keep thinking about me, and tell people to keep voting for me," Hall told ESPN.com earlier this week. Hall has only one carry, which might not be a deterrent to his making the Pro Bowl. Since 2000, there have been four Pro Bowl fullbacks with fewer than 10 carries. The list:
|William Henderson (Packers)||2004||0|
|Lorenzo Neal (Bengals)||2002||5|
|Mike Sellers (Redskins)||2009||6|
|Ton Richardson (Vikings)||2008||7|
"Outside our locker room, he's probably unknown," said Johnson, on pace to become just the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. "But he's a great bodyguard, and we appreciate him."
Nine starting fullbacks have zero rushing attempts this season. Hall has just one carry this season and 17 rushes in nearly four full seasons. Even in an era when fullbacks are expected to be good receivers, there are 21 starters with 12 or fewer touches this season.
Said Hall, who has eight receptions in 2009: "You've got to be the kind of person who still succeeds without a lot of pats on the back. I kind of get some degree of vicarious satisfaction when [Johnson] puts up big numbers."
Hall has long admired the work of veteran fullbacks such as Mack Strong and Lorenzo Neal. Many of his contemporaries -- such as Ovie Mughelli (Atlanta), Terrelle Smith (Detroit), Vonta Leach (Houston), Lousaka Polite (Miami), Greg Jones (Jacksonville), Madison Hedgecock (New York Giants), Tony Richardson (New York Jets), Mike Karney (St. Louis) and Mike Sellers (Washington) -- have become standouts at the thankless position.
"It's sort of like getting a head start and then running into a wall," Hedgecock recently said. Hall described it as "a car wreck 25 or 30 times in the same day." The retired Strong termed the fullback spot "a handful of Excedrin" position.
Although Hall considers himself very good in pass protection, as well, the bottom line for him is usually Johnson's statistical line, which includes six straight outings of 125 yards or more, including a 228-yard performance against Jacksonville on Nov. 1. The two men review lots of videotape together, especially on Saturdays, and often conjure up ways to block linebackers and conspire on what angles to take on certain plays.
"If CJ is having a good game, I'm usually having a good game, too, and that's really enough for me," Hall said.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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