SAN DIEGO — A veteran the New Orleans Saints unearthed during the dog days of training camp ended up playing a key role in the franchise's first victory of the season on Sunday.
Even though he normally spends his time doing the dirty work so others could shine.
Fullback John Kuhn, a Dover High School graduate, scored three touchdowns in a 35-34 win over the Chargers on Sunday, including a 1-yard run with 1:57 left that ended up being the game-winner.
"I'm just a part of this team, and we're gassed right now," Kuhn said.
"We all scratched and clawed and fought to get a victory all week."
Kuhn, who became almost as recognizable a Green Bay Packer as Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson in nine seasons up north, now leads the Saints with four touchdowns in his first season away from the frozen tundra since his rookie season with Pittsburgh in 2006.
After Green Bay decided not to bring Kuhn back in the offseason, he had to wait to find a landing spot, and New Orleans brought him in after the incumbent fullback, Austin Johnson, underwent surgery early in training camp.
Then Kuhn proved that none of the versatility that made him such an asset in Green Bay has left, beating out Johnson for the job.
Kuhn's versatility against San Diego showed why he's the best man for the role.
A reliable pass catcher out of the backfield, the fullback hauled in a short throw from Drew Brees for a 3-yard score in the second quarter, and he made a key first-down catch on the Saints' game-winning drive to set up his go-ahead touchdown.
But Kuhn, who was a running back at NCAA Division II Shippensburg University, is also a better runner than most fullbacks, carrying the ball 198 times in his tenure with the Packers.
New Orleans has grown comfortable turning to him in short-yardage situations.
"He's got a pretty good feel," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "If you need a yard, he's probably going to get a yard and a half. ... In short-yardage situations, a lot of times, I don't like running behind a lead back when you're trying to get inside of a yard, and he's got a good feel for finding the soft spot in the defense."
Kuhn bowled into the end zone for a 1-yard score in the third quarter, and he also picked up a first down on third-and-1 early in the game by leaping over the pile for a 3-yard gain.
Finally, when the Saints needed a score, Kuhn bowled in over an opening on the right side to hand New Orleans its first win.
Through three games, Kuhn now has seven carries and five catches, touching the ball twice more than Johnson did all of last season.
"We've got a lot of weapons, so I just take advantage of some situations," Kuhn said. "Honestly, if you look at our offense, who do you want to key on? There's a lot of guys to key on, and I just take advantage of matchups."