He was a lead blocker, he picked up the blitz, he ran the ball (70 times for 323 yards, 4.6 yards per carry), and he caught the ball (15 catches for 140 yards).
And in the process, he made the Pro Bowl.
So when we talk about the fullback position in the Eagles’ offense, it’s important to remember that personnel almost always determines who’s on the field. That team had LeSean McCoy, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Brent Celek. But Weaver still played 45.2 percent of the snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.
“When Leonard was here, I think they used the fullback a lot in two-back sets to get Shady out and keep different defenses out there,” said Stanley Havili, who is currently the first-team fullback. “The last couple years, with Owen [Schmitt] here, they didn’t utilize the fullback that much. So hopefully, they bring it back to where they’re using him a lot.”
Below is a table showing how the Eagles used Weaver in 2009, compared to how they used Schmitt last year.
|Leonard Weaver (2009)||45.2%||31.5%||15.6%||15.0%||37.9%|
|Owen Schmitt (2011)||15.8%||41.4%||14.4%||2.3%||42.0%|
As for Havili (6-0, 227), he is hoping his role can resemble Weaver’s.
“I think me and Leonard, our skill set is the same,” he said. “We’re both more athletic fullbacks and west-coast fullbacks. We’re not traditional, run iso all-day fullbacks. Split us out, play running back, play third-down back, I think that’s the biggest difference between this year and last year with fullbacks.”
The one thing Havili needs to prove – and he knows it – is that he can be an effective lead blocker. He said he battled a shoulder injury in college at USC that limited him somewhat as a blocker, but Havili had surgery before last season and is now at full health.
Last year, according to STATS.com, McCoy carried 19 times for 51 yards (2.7 YPC) out of the I-Formation and 22 times for 72 yards (3.3 YPC) with split backs. But the numbers are not as bad as they look. Consider that the I-Formation carries were likely short-yardage attempts and that McCoy converted first downs or touchdowns on 13 of those 19 runs. He had seven red-zone scores with a lead blocker out of the I-Formation.
“They know that I can run the ball, that I can catch,” Havili said. “I just think the biggest thing this training camp was to show them that I can hit.”
Special teams will also be a key. Havili is currently on the kick return, punt return, kick coverage and punt coverage teams.
“That player has to play on special teams and be a factor there,” Andy Reid said. “He looked like he had a pretty good feel as he caught on last year during the preseason. He’s just got to keep coming, but he’s making progress and doing a nice job with it.”
Havili’s primary competition appears to be undrafted free agent Emil Igwenagu (6-2, 245). Igwenagu saw some time with the tight ends earlier in camp, but is now back with the fullbacks.
As for the notion that the Eagles might not keep a fullback at all, Reid didn’t sound like he’s viewing that as a possibility.
“Well, you need a fullback,” he said. “In our offense, you need a fullback.”
Now he just has to decide who it will be.