Fullback Marcel Reece is respected by his Raiders teammates, coaches and fans. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
There is much that is uncertain about the Raiders in 2014. It’s a team with far more questions than answers.
But there is no question mark above Marcel Reece.
Reece, the versatile and talented Raiders fullback, not only was named to the Pro Bowl this season but also has been elected second-team All-Pro, behind only Carolina Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert.
No matter who is the coach or quarterback in Oakland next season, Reece will be a Raider, because he’s under contract through 2016.
The only question is, will Oakland ever figure out how best to use him?
Though the former college wide receiver is a gifted pass catcher and runner, Reece averaged just 4.8 touches per game in 2013.
In 16 games he carried the ball just 46 times for 218 yards and two touchdowns and caught 32 passes for 331 yards and two TDs. And, a good chunk of those carries came in just one game, when Reece filled in at tailback against the Jets because of injuries, and rushed for 123 yards on 19 attempts. In only one other game did he carry the ball more than five times, and that was seven carries in an early-season win over the Chargers.
Every time the Raiders need him, he’s there. But the problem is, the Raiders’ coaching staffs over the past few years seem to have trouble incorporating Reece into their game plans. Only when starting tailbacks have been hurt has Reece been called on much to run the ball. In 2012, when top running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson were hurt, Reece stepped in over a four-game stretch to rush for 261 yards on 54 carries.
Playing a secondary role seems to bother others more than it does Reece, however.
“I don’t worry about that, I don’t think about that,” Reece told reporters this season. “The two initials (FB) next to your name on the roster mean nothing. I don’t worry about my position. I just worry about making plays for my team and helping us win.
“Whatever these coaches need me to do, I’m going to do it.”
Reece’s teammates this season voted him the Commitment to Excellence Award, which is given to the player who best demonstrates hard work, leadership and excellence on and off the field.
“As far as the Commitment to Excellence Award, everybody knows I love the Raiders,” Reece told the team’s website. “I love the silver and black and I appreciate the Raider Nation with all my heart.”
Reece will soon be playing in his second Pro Bowl. Last season he was selected when starter Vonta Leach of the Ravens could not play in the game.