Rock Cartwright was an unexpected key contributor for the 2003 Redskins. But with Joe Gibbs returning as head coach, the offense will surely have a different look next season--and how well Cartwright fits in with the personnel goals of the new coaching staff has yet to be determined.
Still, the 5-7, 223-pound fullback has always managed to find a way to fit in no matter what offense he is in.
How? Sheer determination. That attribute is even evident in his hard-nosed rushing style.
Last season, Cartwright rushed for 411 yards on 107 carries and led the team with four rushing touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 176 yards, shifting between the tailback and fullback positions.
"I just wanted to show people that I was capable of playing football at this level," Cartwright said. "I think I did that pretty decent last year. The record didn't show it, though. It's always a team thing with me. Hopefully we can regroup and get this thing turned around next season."
Cartwright was used sparingly in his rookie season. He went into the 2003 campaign behind Bryan Johnson and was regarded as sort of a secret weapon coming out of the backfield. Mostly he was used on short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Cartwright began to see more extended playing time after tailbacks Trung Canidate, Ladell Betts and Chad Morton were all injured mid-season. That's when Cartwright was first shifted to tailback, a position he hadn't played regularly since high school.
Pressed into duty in the Week 10 game against Seattle, he responded with 13 rushes for 81 yards and logged a key 21-yard run on the Redskins' game-winning drive.
Cartwright started the final three games of the season and set career highs in the Week 15 game against Dallas, rushing 21 times for 94 yards. In the season-finale against Philadelphia, he set a career high with five receptions for 53 yards despite injuring his collarbone and shoulder midway through the game.
During his first stint with the Redskins, Gibbs didn't use fullbacks often, preferring instead to employ two tight end sets and the H-back.
But Cartwright's versatility could appeal to Gibbs and his coaching staff as they go through the process of evaluating the roster prior to the annual scouting combine, free agency and the NFL Draft in April.