The Buccaneers signed former Texas A&M fullback Jorvorskie Lane on Tuesday, then shortly after signed former Jet Josh Baker. Lane, who weighs in excess of 250 pounds, set the Texas A&M record for rushing touchdowns with 49 scores in his collegiate career. Baker was waived by the Jets prior to last season.
With the departure of former starting fullback Erik Lorig to New Orleans during free agency, the Bucs were in need of a signing another fullback, even though Tampa Bay's offense will be primarily run out of a one-back set. The Bucs will be using a fullback in short-yardage and goal line situations and signed former Texas A&M standout Jorvorskie Lane on Tuesday after working out for the team on Monday. Lane will compete for a roster spot with Lonnie Pryor, the only other fullback on the team’s roster. Later on Tuesday Tampa Bay added former Jets FB/TE Josh Baker who could be in the mix at the position.
Lane rushed for 2,090 yards on 461 carries (4.5 avg.) in his collegiate career, including back-to-back seasons with at least 725 yards and 16 touchdowns as a running back during his sophomore and junior campaigns. As a senior in 2008, Lane, who had seven 100-yard games in college, was limited to 93 yards and five touchdowns on 35 carries (2.7 avg.) as he was moved to the role of fullback under new head coach Mike Sherman.
Lane has battled weight issues during his career, and after becoming the Aggies’ all-time rushing touchdown leader with 49 scores, he went undrafted after weighing as much as 295 pounds for the East-West Shrine Game in 2009. After being shunned by the NFL he was forced to play for the West Texas Roughnecks in the Indoor Football League.
The Lufkin, Texas native worked out for NFL scouts again at the Texas A&M pro day in 2011 and weighed 277 pounds, while running a disappointing time of 4.87 in the 40-yard dash. After a stint in the Arena Football League with the Orlando Predators, Lane signed with the Miami Dolphins, who had Sherman as its offensive coordinator. He had trimmed down to 258 pounds and played in all 16 games with five starts at fullback, finishing with 79 receiving yards and one touchdown and 13 carries for 13 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Lane, who is the half-brother of Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley, was waived last August and spent the 2013 season out of football prior to signing with the Bucs on Tuesday.
It will be interesting to see how new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford uses Lane in training camp and during the preseason. Lane rushed for 36 yards on seven carries (5.1 avg.) and caught two passes for 11 yards against Tedford’s California Golden Bears in a 45-10 loss in the 2006 Holiday Bowl.
Bucs head coach Lovie Smith addressed the fullback position last week at the NFL Owners Meeting.
“As a general rule, the fullback position is a position that is being pushed aside a little bit because of what type of guy you have to have at that position,” Smith said. “I think there’s still a place for it, but that guy has to be able to do multiple things. You’re not going to have a two-back set that often. So you have to warrant him dressing, so he has to do more things like I said. Those things are normally special teams. You have to have a certain type of guy that can be a big lead blocker. You have other options at lead blocker, too. You can put other positions there too, whether it’s a big offensive guard, a big offensive lineman, he can take some of the lead plays also. With your fullback, you want him to be versatile enough to go outside and not just line up in your traditional fullback position. That’s a hard guy to find.”
Baker, last saw action in 11 games with the Jets in 2011 as a backup tight end. Baker had three career pass receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown. He missed the 2012 season with a knee injury and has been out of the league after being waived by the Jets in February 2013. Baker played a majority of his college career at Delaware before finishing up at North Missouri State.
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