PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 08: David Johnson #85 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts to break a tackle after catching a pass against the Cleveland Browns during the game on December 8, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
With new offensive coordinator Todd Haley kept under media lockout, analysts and fans alike have been making projections as to what the Steelers offense will look like in 2012.
There's a hint or two here and there, but the biggest wrinkle will no doubt be the inclusion of the fullback position once again.
It appears as if David Johnson will assume a dual-role this year, one part blocking back, other in-line protector.
Clearly, this offense is going to be centered around the players standing 5-7 yards behind QB Ben Roethlisberger, instead of just the ones standing 12-15 yards to his left and right.
The decision could have been made in part to help increase the Steelers' running ability, but at the same time, it could be done for positional flexibility. With the signing of TE Leonard Pope this offseason, as well as the four-game suspension to TE Weslye Saunders, the Steelers are in something of an awkward position in terms of the amount of tight ends they'd be willing to keep. With TE Heath Miller joining Johnson and Saunders, Pope's signing would give them four tight ends - or, one more than they'd normally keep in a season.
Converting Johnson to fullback, allows them to dress two other tight ends, and use Johnson at tight end in case of injury.
One doesn't have to look very far to see a team utilizing a fullback without requiring the position to be represented in 90 percent of the team's offensive snaps. Baltimore signed Vonta Leach to a three-year deal last season, and he wasn't in on all of the Ravens' offensive snaps. Johnson (with a number change to one somewhere in the 40s) could be utilized as a fullback, tight end and H-back, essentially giving the team a multi-position player in a diverse offense.