VONTA’S VACATION: Rowland native savors first trip to Pro Bowl

First Posted: 1/26/2011

HONOLULU — His résumé doesn’t read like one who should be lining up besides the Peyton Mannings, the Michael Vicks or the Maurice Jones-Drews of the NFL in the Pro Bowl.
For his career, he has a total of three rushing attempts for three yards and two touchdowns. As a receiver, he’s a little more productive with 76 career receptions for 537 yards and four scores. A peek at his statistics from this season reveal no rushes and eight catches for 91 yards.
Yet he will be in Honolulu basking in the spotlight of being the best at his position.
Such is the life of a fullback in today’s NFL for Rowland’s Vonta Leach.
Leach was voted to his first Pro Bowl and will be joined by Houston Texans teammates Andre Johnson and Arian Foster in Hawaii. As Leach was leaving for Hawaii Monday, he received another first-time honor — All-Pro.
Leach received 17 of 50 votes from media members to edge the Baltimore Ravens’ Ovie Mughelli.
Leach and other members of the Texans started a campaign called “Take Leach to the Beach” on Facebook and Twitter to help him win a spot in Sunday’s game.
Leach was aided by a mention of his on-line bid during the Texans’ appearance on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens. Perhaps more importantly, Leach served as the lead blocker for the league’s top runner this season, Foster.
“Football is a team sport, we didn’t have a good season, but some individuals on the team did,” Leach said by telephone before leaving for Honolulu. “It makes me feel good that I was selected.”
Leach knows when the season began the Texans were not expected to have a strong running game and would once again rely on the arm of quarterback Matt Schaub and the hands and legs of Johnson. However, Foster emerged in Week 1 as a viable threat in the offense. Foster rushed for 231 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-24 victory over last year’s Super Bowl runners-up, the Indianapolis Colts.
“Everyone thought the weakest part of the team was the running game,” Leach said. “Once Arian had two or three 100-plus games, it started opening people’s eyes.”
Leach is one of what appears to be a dying breed in the NFL, a true fullback. While the majority of teams have at least one on the roster, they are rarely used and are being pushed out by the hybrid player.
“Lots of teams are getting away from them,” Leach said. “Instead of having a fullback, they will use an extra offensive lineman, a defensive lineman or a tight end back there. They’re not as good and can’t do the dirty work a fullback can.”
Forgive the former South Robeson and East Carolina star if he sounds like he’s on a job interview, because in a way, he is. His contract with the Texans expired and he is currently a free agent.
While he is glad that Texans coach Gary Kubiak and the rest of the offensive coaching staff is returning next season, Leach knows it is not a guarantee the team will want him back.
“There are some rumors going around,” Leach said. “But I’m just going to try to stay healthy and keep in shape.”

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