Philly Fullback Fight

Sometimes no news is news, especially when it involves a starting spot on an NFL roster. From the Philadelphia Eagles camp comes the no-news announcment that the top slot on the depth chart at fullback is still blank.

For the 2006 Philadelphia Eagles, it’ll be Josh Parry or Thomas Tapeh. Parry was the survivor of last year’s rumble with Jon Ritchie and played fifteen games at that spot in 2005. Picked up as a rookie in 2001, Parry was initially a linebacker out of San Jose State. He persistently hung with the Eagles organization on the practice squad until 2004. That September, Ritchie was placed on injured reserve and in a pinch the Eagles’ brain trust put Parry at the position. Since then, Parry has been the starter. His linebacker origins are belied by the fact that he has notched exactly zero rushing attempts in 31 games, and his highlight list is full of blocks.

The Liberia-born Tapeh is surely a scintillating possibility for head coach Andy Reid and co. Drafted by the Eagles out of the University of Minnesota in the fifth round in 2004, Tapeh is revered for his sheer athletic ability, with basketball, track and soccer credits in his amateur career. His stint with the Minnesota Gophers crested in the team’s #3 national ranking, a year in which Tapeh rushed for 570 yards in the regular season and bagged a hat trick of touchdowns in the Sun Bowl.

Unfortunately, Tapeh remains mostly an utter unknown at NFL fullback. In 2004, Tapeh played seven games, mostly on special teams, before suffering a hip injury that kept him out for the rest of the season. The lingering effects of the injury also sidelined him for all of 2005, and Tapeh was put on the reserve list. By all reports, Tapeh is currently 100% and has a legitimate shot at being given a shot.

Whose name will be drawn will undoubtedly depend largely on another decision: How much yardage will Reid want from the fullback position. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg reportedly wants to run his fullback much more often in 2006. While theoretically anything would be an improvement over the nada of the last two seasons, few in the Eagles camp have confidence in Parry as a runner. (Parry has naturally disputed this claim.) On the other hand, putting Tapeh in there is a comedown in blocking from the former LB.

For one of these guys, it is unfortunate indeed that the Eagles will probably carve out only one roster space for fullbacks. Can’t modern science find a way to splice these guys together?

If not, either Tapeh and Parry will probably be wearing another jersey, watching the Philadelphia Eagles mostly on TV.

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