Packers Annual Checkup: John Kuhn

In 16 games last season, Packers fullback John Kuhn amassed 40 rushing yards for two touchdowns and had 15 receptions for 97 yards. His value to Green Bay goes beyond statistics, however.

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FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.

John Kuhn, fullback

Season stats: 16 games (337 offensive snaps; 32 percent of total offensive snaps), 12 rushing attempts, 40 yards, two touchdowns, two fumbles (one lost); 15 receptions, 97 yards, one dropped pass

ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 9.6 (ranked No. 7 out of 23 Packers offensive players; ranked No. 3 among NFL fullbacks)

Best game: Week 17 win at Chicago (played 24 of 78 offensive snaps); one rushing attempt for one yard; executed the perfect block to set up game-winning touchdown; 0.4 PFF rating

Worst game: Week 6 win at Baltimore (played 10 of 69 offensive snaps); one carry for two yards; two receptions for nine yards; one fumble (one fumble lost) after blocked punt; minus-0.2 PFF rating

Expectations at the start of the season: Medium

Expectations were … Met

Looking live: As John Kuhn reported to training camp for his seventh season with the Packers, he was nearing his 31st birthday and was already one of only a few players on the roster who weren’t in their 20s. He was on the books for a fairly substantial amount of $2.5 million in 2013 in the final year of his contract, but with Green Bay not having another fullback on the roster ready to take Kuhn’s spot, there was almost no chance that general manager Ted Thompson would part with him. Kuhn, as expected, was the model of consistency in training camp. He didn’t miss a single practice and was always leading by example to the rest of the running back room. With rookies Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin having a lot to learn in a short amount of time, being able to watch Kuhn go through the drills like the confident veteran that he is was certainly helpful to them. Kuhn also played an important role on special teams, and by midway through camp, he was one of eight core pieces on both kickoff coverage and kickoff return.

Packers 2014 Annual Checkup Archive

Upon further review: Kuhn’s rushing attempts were significantly down in 2013 from the previous three seasons. His carries have actually been on a steady decline since being handed the ball 84 times in 2010. Kuhn’s overall playing time this past season was down, as well. He was on the field for 432 snaps (37 percent) in 2011 and for 437 snaps (39 percent) in 2012, but that total was down to 337 snaps (32 percent) in 2013. However, Kuhn was as involved as ever in the passing game, being targeted 19 times in 2013 after having the ball thrown his way 18 times in each of the previous three seasons. There has been a change developing since 2010 in how playcalling head coach Mike McCarthy most often uses Kuhn. In 2013, for the first time, Kuhn was on the field in a run-blocking role more than he was on the field in any other situation. The effect of having a dominating runner in Lacy obviously played a big role in why Kuhn was used mostly as a run-blocker. Lacy’s terrific rookie season also contributed a lot to why Kuhn’s carries dropped by more than 50 percent, as previously it was the 250-pound fullback who got the ball on many short-yardage plays. Despite all of those numbers, though, Kuhn has never been as valuable to the Packers as he was on the game-winning touchdown in Week 17 to win the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers called Kuhn "the unsung hero" for his block against Chicago’s Julius Peppers that gave the extra second necessary to launch a long pass on fourth down to Randall Cobb for the play of the year.

Overall 2013 grade: B

Status for 2014: Sixty percent chance of being on Green Bay’s active roster to begin the 2014 regular season. Kuhn is an unrestricted free agent, which of course means it’s possible that he could sign with any NFL team. But, if Kuhn came with somewhere around a $1.5 million price tag for next season, is that really something that the Packers wouldn’t be interested in? Kuhn is what he is as a player, but he’s a veteran leader (one of few on the ever-young Green Bay roster) and has a great handle on McCarthy’s offense. Plus, it’s important to consider the depth chart when looking at replacing a player, and right now, the Packers don’t have Kuhn’s replacement ready (though that could change in free agency or in the draft). It’s probably safe to assume that Kuhn will be in his green and gold uniform for another year or two.

Next: Running back Eddie Lacy

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