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Hunt Makes His Case; Will Coaches Approve?

FOXBOROUGH, MA -- On a nondescript running play early in Friday night's 27-17 win over the New England Patriots, Tony Hunt made what could be classified as his first "good" block as a fullback.

He brushed back Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi just enough to keep Bruschi away from Brian Westbrook, away from the action. The result of the play: only two yards for Westbrook. But it wasn't Bruschi that made the tackle.

Interestingly, Hunt didn't even remember the play. But should Westbrook have been able to shake free of the pile that swallowed him up, Hunt's block would have stood out (maybe). Such is the thankless job of the fullback, and Hunt's learning about it along the way.

Hunt made the first start of his career at the position, converted earlier this week from tailback. For the first time in his life, it was he attempting to open holes, and not to find them.

"I expected it to be different, so it's going to have its ups and downs," Hunt said. "I was just glad to be able to go the right way, and like I said, I just tried to play as hard as I could, as fast as I could, knowing what I know with the bit of experience I've got."

Hunt earned his shot, coaches said, by playing himself onto the field. Despite being the fourth running back on the depth chart, Hunt had a huge game against Carolina last week. So the decision to try to help him to make the team in any way possible came easily.

But for Hunt, the pressure was on. Friday's game featured his first full-speed, live-action reps at fullback. The biggest adjustment, he said, was recognizing the differences between fullback and the position he's so used to playing.

"It's not knowing which man to block at fullback, it's knowing how to get to that man. You don't know what the d-line's going to do. Your course depends on what they do," Hunt said. "You need to be able to read it the same way the tailback's going to read it, but you actually have to read it faster, because the play's going to be more developed by the time the tailback gets there."

Hunt's other skills weren't lost in the playcalling, however. He carried the ball six times for 16 yards, most in short-yardage situations. On both third-down carries he received, he bowled forward for first downs. If Hunt wins the job, his offensive skills could add another dimension for defenses to prepare for.

And, as for special teams, arguably the fullback's biggest role on the team, Hunt was involved on at least one tackle.

"He did some good things. It's tough to tell at this point," head coach Andy Reid said. "I have to get in there and kind of study the film and see how he did on the blocking part of it. But it looked like he did OK."

As a fullback in the Eagles' attack, "OK" might be the extent of the compliments Hunt will hear all season. Would he rather be getting between 15 and 20 touches per game? Probably. Heck, after studying film, coaches might want Hunt to move back to running back.

But he knows his best shot to win a job is at fullback.

"I'm going to do what they ask me to do," he said.

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