The fullback position is one that gets more attention in Green Bay than in most other NFL cities. One reason is that head coach Mike McCarthy is a little old school, the other, has to do with former Packers fullback John Kohn.
For a decade, Packers fans fell in love with Kuhn — with his style of play and his personality. Yet, the Kuhn era is officially over in Green Bay, which means now it’s time for Aaron Ripkowski to take center stage.
And while that may be a scary thing for long-time Packers followers, after watching Ripkowski against the Oakland Raiders in Week 2 of the NFL preseason, the second-year fullback appears more than capable of handling the starting job.
When going into each preseason game, I try to watch a few players or positions and one thing I wanted to watch this week was Ripkowski. I wanted to see how he handled the things and honestly, I came away impressed.
One the first series of the game, one that ended in an Eddie Lacy touchdown run, Ripkowski made a key block on an early 20-yard scamper by Lacy. If you click the link below, you can see all of Lacy’s runs, including that one and if you take the time to watch it closely, you will see Ripkowski feel his way through the hole, then get a great seal on LB Ben Heeney.
Ripkowski, who played the first few series as the starting fullback, also came up with a big block on the ensuing drive, this time springing backup running back James Starks for a 24-yard gain. Certainly, there were other key blocks on the play, but again, Ripkowski showed great feel through the hole and blew it open with a tremendous kick-out block.
The former Oklahoma Sooner also showed some hands on the first play of the game, catching a swing pass and rumbling 13 yards. However, on the next play, he dropped another easy pass that would have been a solid gain.
Just like with his receiving skills, Ripkowski didn’t nail every block against the Raiders. But, in two games, he has never looked out of place and in truth, he’s added a more physical element to the running game.
Obviously, we will all miss Kuhn and what he brought to the Packers. But in terms of on-field performance, there will be little, if any, drop off this season with Ripkowski taking over the starting role full time.