Kyle Eckel is a true fullback, a mucker and grinder who understands that the position is one that yields no glory. He is an Eagle now, and all the stories of the "hometown kid made good" is nice and everything, but can he play the position? Can he help the Eagles at a spot that has been an issue all year? We're going to see, apparently. But don't expect Eckel to walk right into the lineup. Dan Klecko remains the starter until further notice as Eckel learns his way around the offense.
There are 10 games remaining. The Eagles are right in the mix in the division. They need to be more solid across the board, fullback included.
After letting Thomas Tapeh go in free agency, the Eagles thought they would find an answer among the likes of Jason Davis, Luke Lawton, Klecko, Jed Collins and Tony Hunt. Klecko is the latest in line, having played all of one full game at the position this season.
Eckel is the most experienced of the prospects the Eagles have considered since the spring. He is a hustler, a physical player and a decent-enough athlete to help on special teams. And the latter -- special teams -- is a big part of the equation. The Eagles aren't going to use a fullback for much more than 10-15 percent of the snaps from the line of scrimmage, so that man has to help on special teams.
But this is still, unfortunately, a fluid spot. The Eagles need somebody who is physical in the running game and who can at least catch a pass and run a little bit in the passing game. Klecko has the physical part covered, and then some, but he isn't exactly a nimble guy with the ball in his hands.
For the moment, however, Klecko is the starter and he is going to be on the field on Sunday going a million miles an hour, as he always does. Klecko is a winner, a great team player and to think that because the Eagles signed Eckel that they've given up on Klecko is very wrong. But the Eagles needed some insurance here, and after studying Eckel and working him out, they added him to the backfield group.
Eckel's signing meant the Eagles had to make a roster deletion, so they cut safety J.R. Reed. It's a tough loss, because Reed has overcome so much to return to the playing field in the NFL. Knowing him, Reed will stay in shape and hope for another chance. But the Eagles have four safeties, they are high on Quintin Demps and keep feeding him more and more reps in practice and he is ready to take the next step in his rookie season. Keep an eye on Demps.
But back to fullback. It is troubling that the Eagles haven't found the solution at the position. They have certainly gone through the mill trying to find candidates, but so far the answer hasn't been found.
Klecko is going to be challenged on Sunday. Atlanta's defense is fast and physical, and the pass rush is good. The Falcons are much like Jacksonville in the way they stuff the run with their excellent front seven. Klecko has to be aware of the blitz and he has to make sure to put a hat on a hat in the running game.
Sunday is Klecko's big, big game. He now has Eckel pushing on the depth chart. It won't take long for Eckel to learn the verbiage in the offense, and then it will be a man vs. man competition.
Have the Eagles found what they were looking for at fullback? Hey, nobody can answer that question right now. The answer comes starting Sunday, when the Eagles use yet another combination at the position, hoping they have it right this time.