Havner Earning His Two-Way Pay

Spencer Havner (Scott Boehm/Getty)

Positions coaches Ben McAdoo and Winston Moss marvel at Spencer Havner's ability to make plays on offense and on defense. No player has more on his plate on the practice field and in the classroom.

At a salary of $470,000, Spencer Havner is worth every penny.

In fact, his versatility would pay for itself if the folks in the Pro Shop are reading this.

"We were joking the other day that we need to get him a reversible jersey to sell in the Pro Shop, half green, half white," tight ends coach Ben McAdoo said.

A versatile employee is called a man of many hats. Havner is a man of many jerseys. Well, two of them. Some days, he's wearing a white jersey and lining up at tight end. Other days, he's wearing a green jersey and lining up at inside linebacker. In the preseason games, Havner's done triple duty, with two catches on offense and eight tackles and an interception on defense. He hasn't made a tackle on special teams, but he said he expects to get a lot more playing time this week, since he's a No. 1 on the punt, kickoff and kickoff return units.

"I think it's pretty neat," Havner said of playing both offense and defense. "Especially when people say that there's no one else really doing it right now. It's pretty fun."

In 2008, Denver's Spencer Larsen started a game at fullback and middle linebacker. In 2003, Baltimore's Orlando Brown started on the offensive and defensive lines. The last full-time two-way player was Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik, who longtime Packers fans despise because he laid on top of Jim Taylor at the Eagles' 8-yard line as time expired in the 1960 NFL title game.

Havner made the play of the game against Seattle, with his interception thwarting the Seahawks' opportunity to add to their 24-17 lead.

"We needed Havner and Havner came through in a big way last week," inside linebackers coach Winston Moss said.

"We were joking with him that it would be nice if he made a play for us in traffic someday," McAdoo said. "No, he's done that for us. We're not shocked. He's a guy you can throw into the game when you need someone to make a play and he always seems like he comes up making a play."

That's exactly what Havner did last year. While Havner worked at linebacker during training camp, he was basically a full-time tight end. When Jermichael Finley missed three games and most of a fourth with a knee sprain, Havner stepped up by scoring four touchdowns. He added another in the playoff game at Arizona.

He spent the first week-plus of this training camp exclusively at tight end until injuries started to pile up at linebacker. So, one morning, Havner stood out like a sore thumb by wearing the offense's white jersey while lining up with the defense. Since then, he's been splitting his time on the practice field and in the meeting rooms.

"I was kind of worried about him going into the game but he did a great job of focusing on exactly what he needed to," Moss said. "When we got him in that second half, he really did a good job of paying attention. Had a few meetings with him, had a chance to get some walk-through with him. He was able to take that and carry over well. If you remember from last year, at least Spencer got the install throughout the offseason and training camp. He did have some recall, so it wasn't like starting from zero. He had some recall and he was able to get right back up to speed."

McAdoo said Havner's spent the start of the week in the defense's meeting rooms during preparation for upcoming opponents. At the end of the week, he gets a crash course on the offense's game plan.

"You have to be pretty intelligent to do that," McAdoo said. "You've got to be able to switch gears in a hurry and he's been able to do that. He's able to separate it in his mind and that's not easy to do."

With Nick Barnett, A.J. Hawk, Brandon Chillar (at least part-time) and Desmond Bishop at inside linebacker, Havner realizes he's only an in-case-of-emergency option on defense once the regular season begins. His main role will be on special teams and on offense, where Havner plays tight end but sometimes splits out wide like a receiver or motions into the backfield like a fullback.

"The offense is starting to come to me a lot better," Havner said. "I'm learning more of the concepts, not just learning the plays. The defense, I remember a little bit of it when Coach Capers first got here, but there's a lot to that defense."

Tight end is the deepest position on the roster. Even if they keep four from among the group of Finley, Havner, Donald Lee, Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree, a good player is going to be let go. With Havner's versatility, it would seem like he's a lock to make the roster. He won't allow himself to think that way, not after failing to make the team as a linebacker during his first three seasons here.

"They don't really tell you very much," Havner said of the coaches. "I just take it as a compliment. I hope that's what it is. I hope it's not (just filling snaps). It's what I did last year. Hopefully, it's the same thing."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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