Jul 28, 2014; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece (45) carries the ball at training camp at Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders plan to use Marcel Reece in hybrid TE role on passing downs

It is no secret that the Oakland Raiders need to get Marcel Reece involved more in the passing game in 2014. After all Reece has been a Pro Bowl caliber talent at fullback, almost too good for the position that is out of favor in the pass heavy era of the game that has phased out the fullback more and more each season as offensive coordinators line up with more and more receivers on the line of scrimmage rather than using a second backfield player.

That means Reece, one of the Raiders most dynamic offensive talents, is on the bench or not involved with the offense far more often than he should be. A former wideout at the University of Washington, Reece is at fullback partly because of the fact that as a “tweener” he was too big for the wide receiver position, but also just undersized to be lining up at tight end. With good speed and power, fullback seemed like the natural fit for Reece at the time but is now something that fans have been frustrated with as the Raiders struggle to get Reece involved enough in the offense to use his strengths as effectively as possible.

It is also no secret that the Raiders have depth issues at tight end that head coach Dennis Allen hoped would be addressed in the offseason, something that did not happen as beyond undrafted free agent Jake Murphy the Raiders tight end core remained in David Ausberry, Mychal Rivera and Nick Kasa. Something that has been magnified recently as David Ausberry has been out with a knee injury, leading to struggles from the tight ends during the Raiders preseason game against the Vikings.

With the Raiders tight ends getting just one completion on the day for a first down as Nick Kasa caught one 14 yard pass, the Raiders are now considering something that fans and analysts have suggested in the past to bolster their tight end production. According to Vic Tafur the Raiders are exploring their options with Reece lining up as a hybrid TE in passing situations.

The move to use Reece as a potential route running only tight end is intriguing as it would avoid Reece having to do in-line blocking that he is just simply too small to handle while being able to make an impact as a receiver as he did in college. The one downside is that using Reece would give away that the tight end will not be doing much in-line blocking, but in today’s NFL there are many tight ends that rarely do in-line blocking as it is. Whatever the Raiders do with Reece is going to be interesting, but they may just be on to something in using the versatile offensive weapon to boost their stagnant tight end depth.

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