Tommy Bohanon has been around the NFL long enough to know there are two kinds of transactions this time of year.
One type of transaction is made to improve the roster. The second is finding a camp body to get a team through a rough patch of injuries.
With Danny Vitale and Malcolm Johnson sidelined by injury, the Green Bay Packers desperately needed a fullback. That fullback is Bohanon, who was pulled off a U-Haul truck on Sunday, worked out for the team and was signed on Monday, and made his practice debut on Tuesday.
“I think there’s definitely an opportunity here,” Bohanon said after practice. “I’m very confident in my abilities. At the end of the day, they’re going to make the decision they make, but I’m going to go out there and do everything I can to make this 53-man roster.”
With his versatility, Vitale had worked himself into a near-lock for the roster until suffering a calf injury on Saturday. He missed practices on Sunday and Tuesday and almost certainly won’t play on Thursday at Baltimore.
Because of how much coach Matt LaFleur values the position, general manager Brian Gutekunst wouldn’t rule out taking two fullbacks into the regular season.
“I think there’s certainly a chance of that,” he said before practice. “I think you’re always looking at how you’re going to play and how many snaps those guys are going to play and does it make sense to keep two on the roster. I think that’s why you’ve seen a lot of teams go to zero, where they don’t really have a traditional fullback on the roster. Maybe they’ll have a tight end that can do that in the five or six snaps a game they use that particular personnel group. But I think in with what Matt’s trying to do, we’ve used the fullback quite a bit in a lot of the run-scheme stuff.”
Bohanon was a sixth-round pick by the Jets in 2013. He was released after training camp in 2016 and sat out the entire season. Bohanon kept himself ready but also took a job pouring concrete. In March 2017, he took part in the NFL Pro Player Combine in Phoenix. The Jaguars signed him a couple weeks later to a two-year contract. In two seasons in Jacksonville, he played in all 32 games.
The Jaguars didn’t re-sign him this past offseason, and Bohanon had been out of the league until getting a call this weekend while in a U-Haul.
Yes, a U-Haul.
“I was actually moving from my house in Jacksonville,” he said. “I was in a 26-foot U-Haul an hour away from Jacksonville. I had just left and I got the call, so I had to transfer over to my father-in-law’s truck and drive down to the Orlando airport. I got there right as they were boarding. It was definitely an interesting Sunday.”
Fortunately for Bohanon, who was moving back to his hometown of Fort Myers, Fla., he was ready.
“I was lucky enough that I packed a pair of cleats and a week’s worth of clothing,” he said.
Bohanon’s two years in Jacksonville corresponded to Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s two years as the Jags’ offensive coordinator. So, there’s some familiarity with LaFleur’s playbook and language as he takes a crash course in the offense to get ready for Thursday's game.
“Being able to come in and learn the offense pretty quickly is going to be something that helps me out,” he said. “I can relate it to some of the offense I’ve been in in the past. The quicker I can catch up, the quicker I can go out there and run every play in the offense.”