ALLEN PARK — Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi likes having a fullback on the roster. Last year they had Jed Collins. On Saturday they drafted fullback Mike Burton in the fifth round.
“Fullbacks, some people call them a dying breed, but they’re tough guys and I know that we’ve had a good history of fullbacks here, so we like his toughness,’’ Lombardi said. “There’s familiarity with him, so you know about the player because (assistant head coach) Ron Prince was at Rutgers and so he knew the player. Then at the bowl game (at Ford Field), I know Martin Mayhew, this guy kind of caught his eye at the bowl game here in Detroit. So, it’s a strong guy, smart player, tough, everything you want in a fullback.”
Lombardi said it’s easier to get to know a player when a coach has a daily interaction with him.
“So, when you spend every day with a player and see him in practice and you just have so much more experience with him, then the reps that you get to watch on film, it gives you comfort that what you’re seeing is accurate,’’ Lombardi said.
"I think you always want to be able to run the ball. These players will help us run the ball more effectively. They are going to help us be a better offense too. The guard is going run block well but he’s also going to pass block well. The running back is going to run the ball well but is a really good receiver and will add a lot for our special teams. The fullback is obviously more of a run game thing. We definitely want to and need to run the ball better than we did last year and these guys will help us do that,’’ Lombardi said.
Burton said the Lions like his versatility. He played on all special teams units at Rutgers so expect him to contribute heavily for the Lions there too.