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NAPA – At the University of Washington, Marcel Reece was a 240-pound wide receiver. He was converted to fullback in the NFL, and slowly bulked his way up to 255 pounds.
It helped him as a blocker, but he’s far more useful to the Raiders in other ways. The second-team All-Pro has always been a versatile player, used as a receiver out of the backfield and occasionally a rusher between the tackles.
The coaching staff hopes to get Reece the darn ball – a common refrain within Raider Nation – even more this season and though a few less pounds would help him do that.
Reece reported to training camp lean, still mean and quicker than seasons past. At 238 pounds, he hasn’t been this light since college.
“Every year I want to add to my bag of tricks, and the coaching staff had the idea to trim down and add some quickness to my game,” Reece said Sunday. “At this weight, it’ll help keep teams guessing.”
It should help Reece become an effective receiver, a role that should become more prominent in the coming months. Reece remains a fullback by trade, and he’ll still pave the way for tailbacks when necessary.
“It doesn’t mean less blocking,” Reece said. “I just want to be versatile enough to play every down of every game and help in a number of different ways. Trimming down is going to help me doing that.”
Reece’s best season came in 2012, when he had 776 all-purpose yards – 271 rushing, 496 receiving – and a touchdown.
Exceeding those totals would benefit Reece and the Raiders alike. Quickness would help with the ball in his hands. It should help make him a receiving mismatch when covered by a linebacker.
Playing a 238 pounds is likely closer to his natural weight, which should help him physically throughout the year.
“We did it because we think it will help him as a football player,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s a bit lighter, and I think that will be beneficial to him in general and specifically as we go through the second half of the season.”