GREEN BAY – Spencer Havner spent the majority of Thursday morning’s training camp practice at inside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers.
He could have fooled observers when he trotted out onto Ray Nitschke Field with a white, offensive jersey to begin the session. But as soon as full-team calisthenics were over, Havner broke over to the south end of the practice field, sticking out amongst a sea of green.
Eventually the two-way player switched into a green, defensive jersey and kept wearing it for the remainder of the morning session.
According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Mike Vandermause on Twitter citing head coach Mike McCarthy following practice, the plan was for Havner to practice on both sides of the football all along:
MM: plan going into training camp was to play Havner at LB. Will play both ways.
Havner spent the better part of three seasons on the Packers’ practice squad as a linebacker. Then in 2009, the coaching staff switched him over to tight end, although maintained he would continue to add depth at both positions.
Last season Havner played primarily on offense where he gained notoriety for turning four of his seven total receptions into touchdowns. He also played a valuable role on special teams as one of that unit’s better players.
Heading into 2010 Havner finds himself among a group of five tight ends, all with a realistic chance of making the team. The Packers could realistically keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster heading into the regular season; they did as much in 2006. However, keeping all five would seem unlikely.
Jermichael Finley is a lock to make the team. That pits Havner against Donald Lee, first-year player Tom Crabtree and rookie Andrew Quarless for two or maybe three jobs.
Donald Lee is the most experienced tight end and was considered the best blocker. He had a poor ’09 season where he was unable to make much of a difference in the passing game, but has rebounded with a strong training camp in all phases of the game.
Tom Crabtree is regarded as a strong blocker and has actually been on the first-string special teams units on both punt and kickoff return.
Fifth-round draft choice Andrew Quarless is raw, but has shown promising receiving ability much like Finley. The Packers would be taking the risk of losing the young player if they were to cut him and try to stash him on their practice squad.
With Brandon Chillar playing primarily at outside linebacker, it’s possible the Packers will go with only A.J. Hawk, Nick Barnett and Desmond Bishop on the inside. Any flexibility that Havner can add stands to help his chances of sticking around for another season.
Havner was involved in a motorcycle accident this past offseason in which he suffered a broken scapula and was arrested upon suspicion of drunken driving. He was never charged, however, and has shown no lingering effects from his injury.
After speaking with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the quarterback as saying, “Hes not moving. He’s a tight end.
“hes filling in (sic).”