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.
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."