Spencer Havner was a linebacker in college and spent his first couple years in the NFL at the same position before switching to tight end prior to last season.
Havner looked like he had found a home at tight end — entering training camp No. 2 on the depth chart — and had carved out a niche for himself as a short yardage and goal line option with the Packers. Havner caught four touchdowns in his seven receptions last season.
Somewhere along the line, the plan changed.
As of this week, Donald Lee is back at No. 2 on the Green Bay Packers tight end depth chart and today, Havner worked with the linebackers during practice.
The move is largely due to the Packers health at linebacker. The Packers had only seven linebackers active during the morning practice, not including Havner, and one of those players was the recently signed Maurice Simpkins.
However, the switch could also affect Havner’s chances of making the team. Most of us figured Lee would be the odd man out at tight end after the emergence of Jermichael Finley and drafting of Andrew Quarless.
Quarless is at the bottom of the depth chart and indications are he’s being outperformed by Tom Crabtree, a player who was on the practice squad last year, but it still seems like a long shot the Packers would cut a fifth-round draft pick. Lee, meanwhile, has had a fantastic camp thus far and is making it tough for the Packers to cut him.
As a result, Havner’s grasp on a roster spot suddenly seems somewhat tenuous.
Havner’s versatility and special teams play may be what ultimately saves him.
“It doesn’t hurt to be able to back up another position, that’s the way I’m looking at it,” Havner said. “But I really like tight end and really prefer a lot of work.”
Havner was informed of the decision on Wednesday and he’s expected to play linebacker when the Packers face the Cleveland Browns this week.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy indicated the coaching staff always planned to use Havner at both positions, on Thursday, but that seems to be one of his usual BS responses. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the coaches only moved Havner because of the shortage at linebacker.
Hopefully for Havner, the move doesn’t take too much time away from his primary position. He needs the reps at tight end in what looks like one of the most hotly-contested battles to make the team.