One key to the heralded Mike Shanahan running game is a powerful, versatile fullback who can contribute to all facets of the offense.
"The fullback in our offense, he's not like a lineman," running backs coach Bobby Turner explained recently. "He has to be able to carry the ball, catch a ball out of the backfield, and be adjustable out in space. In other words, he's just a bigger halfback when you get right down to it."
The Redskins have been fortunate to have a quality fullback in Mike Sellers at their disposal for a long time. Now in his 10th season with the Redskins, Sellers has become a fixture in the offense and leader on the team.
"He's an outstanding athlete for a young man that size, to have the ability and those skills," Turner said of Sellers. "He's just utilizing all of his tools. He's a leader in the running back role, and he's also a leader on the football team."
It is because of Sellers' stability that the Redskins were able to address other concerns with their 12 picks in this April's NFL Draft.
Sellers is joined at fullback by Darrel Young, signed to the team as an undrafted free agent in 2009. Up until he met head coach Mike Shanahan in mini-camps last year, Young was a prospect at linebacker.
"I liked the way he hit [on special teams]," Shanahan said of the decision to change Young's position. "We needed some fullbacks on the roster and we felt since he had good hands he would be an ideal candidate. I think it was a good transition for him."
Young took the transition in stride, knowing that it gave him a much better chance of making the roster.
"I was excited about it," he said. "It was an opportunity – that's how I looked at it."
Young earned his spot backing up Sellers and played in all 16 games, primarily on special teams. He recorded 13 tackles on special teams coverage – six of those coming in the Redskins' 20-17 win over Jacksonville in Week 16.
On offense, Young made the most of his limited opportunities. He had one reception, a 3-yard touchdown in Week 9 against the Eagles. He also had 19 rushing yards on four carries.
Barring injury or an unexpected free agent signing, Sellers is expected to be the starter this season, with Young spelling him. Both will be looked to as valued contributors in kick and punt coverage.
Sellers remains in great shape, but he is 35 years old. The day may come when Young could be looked at as the long-term solution at fullback.
For now, Young is focused on improving his play.
"[Offense] is just a different approach to the game." Young said. "But football is football."