Updated at 1:10 p.m.
The Browns have signed Chris Pressley, a traditional fullback they hope will pave the way for running back Ben Tate, an NFL source told the Beacon Journal this morning, speaking on condition of anonymity because the move had yet to be announced.
The Browns later announced the signing this afternoon. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
The 5-foot-10, 249-pound Pressley spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons as the Cincinnati Bengals’ No. 1 fullback. However, he suffered a season-ending knee injury Dec. 13, 2012, against the Philadelphia Eagles and did not appear in a game last season.
Pressley, 27, began this past season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list while rehabilitating from the injury. He passed a physical and returned to practice Nov. 25, but the Bengals waived him Dec. 10.
Pressley has started 20 of the 43 NFL regular-season games in which he has appeared. In 2012, ProFootballFocus.com ranked him 19th out of 25 NFL fullbacks, and he helped Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis lead the league in third-and-1 rushing conversions (14-of-15). In 2011, Pressley tied for sixth out of 28 fullbacks listed in the website’s rankings.
Pressley entered the NFL in 2009 as an undrafted free agent with the Bengals. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him off the Bengals’ practice squad in October 2009. The Bengals re-signed him in November 2010 after the Bucs cut him.
Pressley was a teammate of Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas at the University of Wisconsin.
The Browns did not have a traditional fullback on their roster last season. Instead, they used running back Chris Ogbonnaya and others in the role.
But with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the Browns are turning to Pressley to serve as Tate's lead blocker. The Browns signed Tate last month. Pressley became the ninth free agent Browns General Manager Ray Farmer has signed this offseason.
Pressley is purely a blocking fullback. He has had just two carries in his NFL career to go along with six catches for 28 yards and a touchdown.