Raiders Sign Free Agent Fenner as a Replacement for Rathman

Fullback is a demanding spot in the Raider offense. Tom Rathman did not meet those demands, so Monday, the Raiders signed his probable replacement, Derrick Fenner, to a two-year contract worth about $1.1 million.

Fenner, a free agent who spent the last three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, is a 6-foot-3, 228-pounder who does a little of everything, carrying the ball, catching it and blocking for others carrying it.

Fenner was Cincinnati's leading rusher last season with 468 yards gained and a 3.3-yard average. He also caught 36 passes for 276 yards. Bengal Coach Dave Shula referred to Fenner as a "proficient blocker."

He'll need to be all that for the Raiders, who have been looking for a short-yardage runner who also can do everything else required of a fullback. Rathman still has a year left on his Raider contract, but Coach Mike White said last week that a shoulder injury had diminished Rathman's blocking skills.

The Raiders also had talked to Reggie Rivers of the Denver Broncos and Marc Logan of the San Francisco 49ers.

Said White, "He is an experienced, big fullback type. . . . Derrick fits very well into the Raider offense in an area we wanted to address in the off-season."

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