Now that it looks like Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth will be lost for a while with a Lisfranc injury, the tight end position really got a lot thinner than it already was. There\’s still some hope in my eyes, however.
I wrote recently about how I expect offensive coordinator Todd Haley to use more two tight end or one tight end and one fullback personnel groupings this season and I still believe that will happen even with the loss of Spaeth. The key player, however, to pulling this off effectively without tipping a run or pass play, might very well be fullback Will Johnson.
Johnson is a hell of a receiver and that was evidenced last season. What we don\’t know about Johnson, however, is just how good he is an inline tight end. Johnson reportedly worked some at the position over the course of the offseason, so it will be interesting to watch Saturday night against the New York Giants whether or not he is worked there during the game.
Sure, David Paulson still remains the primary tight end until Heath Miller returns, but if Johnson can be just as effective on the line as he is in the backfield as a fullback, it will allow Haley to keep offenses guessing, because he will have a lot of options with the 21 personnel grouping on the field.
I really think that Johnson could be in for a monster year if used properly and I don\’t think 30 receptions is out of the question for him along with 600 or so snaps worth of playing time. Keep a close eye on him throughout the preseason and how he is used.