Lucas at Large: Ewing provides offense another backfield option

FB_110811_Ewing_Bradie.jpegBradie Ewing was relieved when the Green Bay Packers resigned free agent John Kuhn.

"I thought they were going to lose him there for awhile,'' Ewing said.

Ewing's interest in Kuhn is understandable.

As fullbacks, they're both members of the same fraternity or brotherhood.

"It just takes a few guys like John Kuhn to open people's eyes,'' Ewing said. "We can do some of that third down running back stuff -- we can catch the ball and do some different things.''

Not everyone accommodates or embraces fullbacks to the degree the Badgers and Packers do.

"Our offense,'' said Ewing, a senior from Richland Center, "leads to a good opportunity for fullbacks to catch some passes because often the defense overlooks the blocking fullback.

"Coach (Paul) Chryst is good at setting things up with certain plays. So if you have the hands ...''

You're going to get the ball.

Ewing is pretty sure-handed even though he was rarely used as a receiver in high school. When he wasn't running -- and he rushed for over 2,000 yards as a senior -- he was a pass blocker.

The 6-foot, 245-pound Ewing admitted that this is the most confidence anyone has shown in throwing him the football "other than my brother and my dad in the backyard.''

Last season, Ewing had the same number of receptions (eight) and touchdowns (two) as promising tight end Jacob Pedersen, who has taken over for last year's leading receiver, Lance Kendricks.

Ewing could be even more valuable to the offense this season as a receiving option because of the lack of depth and experience in the wide receiver rotation beyond Nick Toon and Jared Abbrederis.

The keys for Ewing are "seeing the ball out of the quarterback's hands, looking the ball in and getting upfield.'' In this context, as a potential receiver, he can create some mismatches.

"When I'm split wide,'' Ewing said, "it also gives our quarterback an opportunity to see what coverage they're in -- based on how they adjust to our 21 personnel (2 RB, 1 TE).

"If a safety or a linebacker splits out there with me, then he knows it's probably man coverage. That gives the quarterback an edge, too.''

The early reviews on quarterback Russell Wilson have been exceptionable. "He's still a little raw in this offense,'' Ewing said, "but he's a great player, a great leader and a great person.''

Wednesday, the Badgers donned full pads for the first time in training camp. "Everyone starts picking it up a notch,'' Ewing said. "Especially the O-line and D-line. They're start banging a little bit.''

In the absence of OTAs because of the NFL lockout, Kuhn and his teammates are in the process of knocking off some of the rust. Meanwhile, Ewing also felt like he got off to a slow start in camp.

"I was struggling a little at the beginning; I felt a little rusty,'' Ewing said. "I was struggling with fits, and my reads. I just needed to get back to my basics and focus on my fundamentals.''

During Wednesday's practice, Ewing held his block on a defensive back for a few extra seconds; resulting in dirty looks between the DB and Ewing once they separated and went back to their huddles.

"I just needed to get my edge back,'' Ewing said afterward. "I felt better today.''

ON WISCONSIN