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This is CHGO’s Chicago Bears 2022 player preview series. Learn more about each player and what to expect from them this year.
Khari Blasingame is entering his fourth year in the NFL and his first season with the Chicago Bears.
Playing a prototypical fullback role with the Tennessee Titans, Blasingame’s career isn’t full of gaudy personal stats. Instead, he does the dirty work and paves the way for running backs.
Advanced Stat to Know: The Titans averaged 2.7 rushing yards per attempt (YPA) on outside zone/toss plays in 2021 with Blasingame as the lead blocker. (@NoFlagsFilm)
Will Khari Blasingame actually make a large impact on the Bears’ rushing attack?
Blasingame came to Chicago after the Titans decided not to tender him, allowing the fullback to become a free agent. This was after Tory Carter took his place on the depth chart last season in Week 8 after Blasingame suffered an injury. Carter then got injured himself in Week 14 and Blasingame took over for the rest of the season.
The advanced stat above is not a positive one for Blasingame. The Titans saw that. And when they put Carter in for Blasingame last season, their YPA on those outside zone rushes doubled (5.4).
All of this begs the question, will Blasingame be better for the Bears this season?
In order for him to be the lead blocker Chicago is looking for, he will need to play fast and burst through the hole in a hurry. He will then need to take defenders out of the equation.
A key for any fullback is just how quickly they can process the play as it’s happening. Depending on what the defense does, Blasingame will need to be able to identify the right defender to block.
There will be times when he needs to get out to the edge. He will also have to handle any blitzers going through gaps. And there may also be instances where he simply just needs to assist an offensive lineman or tight end seal their man in order to set the edge.
Those are just a few ways Blasingame will need to make his impact to help the Bears’ offense establish the run and excel in their outside-zone scheme.
Don’t expect to see him get many touches on offense. In his 32 career games, Blasingame only has 13 total touches. He does have an impactful 7.9 yards per touch. Most of his work comes as a receiver out of the backfield as 10 of his 13 touches are receptions.
Blasingame is in Chicago to do the dirty work. Any sort of ball production is just a bonus.
Still, he needs to prove he is a better lead blocker than last season on those outside zone carries. Blasingame can do that by ensuring the backs behind him don’t get contacted early.
The Bears struggled with gaining yards on the ground before contact last season. Khalil Herbert averaged 2.4 yards before contact (t-20) and David Montgomery only mustered 1.9 yards before contact (t-45).
By giving Chicago’s backs more room to operate around the line of scrimmage and some additional daylight to work with, Blasingame can have an underrated positive impact this season.
Until we know how exactly the Bears offense is going to look, it’s difficult to gauge exactly how large of a role they have in store for the fullback. The most offense snaps Blasingame has played in a single season is 165, which was 16% of the team’s total.
He is a consistent part of special teams, averaging over 135 snaps on the third phase each season.
After watching his backup thrive last season in Tennessee, Blasingame has something to prove in 2022 with his fresh start in Chicago. Hopefully, he channels that frustration into aggression onto opposing defenders on Sundays.
Prediction: Blasingame makes the team at fullback and plays 7-12 snaps per game. He will also play up to 50 percent of special team snaps.
Stats: 2 Carries, 6 Yards / 4 Catches, 45 Yards / 1 Touchdown.
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