NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When NFL Network analyst Michael Robinson spent time with Titans running back DeMarco Murray recently, they had a conversation that brought a smile to Robinson's face.
Murray, who led the AFC in rushing with 1,287 yards in 2016, was raving about Jalston Fowler, his fullback with the Titans.
"It's funny,'' said Robinson, who played fullback for eight seasons with the 49ers and Seahawks. "DeMarco told me: 'Man, it feels good to have a fullback.' We talked about having a fullback, and how it helps.
"Fullbacks, we are really a position of service. We don't get a lot of 'Thank Yous.' So it was pretty cool."
Robinson, a Pro Bowler in 2011 who won a Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks in 2013, said he's been impressed with Fowler, the team's fourth-round pick out of Alabama in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Fowler was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2016 during a season when the Titans finished third in the NFL in rushing behind Murray and rookie Derrick Henry, who finished with 490 yards and five touchdowns.
"There's not a lot of teams that actually major in (the fullback), but look at the top of the league in rushing, and they have fullbacks,'' Robinson said during Super Bowl week in Houston. "(Fowler), he is really interesting. He plays with leverage, which not a lot of fullbacks understand that. But he is able to play with leverage and gets separation, and he is able to block a half of a body, which you have to be able to do in the zone run scheme. He does a great job of that, and I think that is what separates him from some of the other fullbacks that are more just thumpers."
In 2016, Fowler played in all 16 games for the Titans for the second straight year.
In 32 career games, Fowler has just eight carries for 16 yards, and six catches for 58 yards. As a fullback, he does a lot of the dirty work, and he's also a key performer on special teams.
Robinson said Fowler is still improving, but he believes he can be a key cog on a team on the rise.
"It is one of those positions, where we are really moving guards,'' Robinson said of the fullback position. "We are asked sometimes to block d-tackles, block d-linemen. But I don't think people truly understand how much they are the eyes to the running back. A running back can blindly follow him and be able to at least puncture through the line of scrimmage.
"(Fowler) seems tough. There are some technique issues that I would have some suggestions with him on but he is definitely above average. And I love the way the Titans run the ball. I think they are one of the sleeper teams in the league. They play the brand of football that resonates through the fourth quarter of the season. And you may see them in the mix at some point in the future."
TitansOnline.com looks back at the first two NFL seasons of FB Jalston Fowler. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)