Remember when there was speculation over the summer that the Eagles might not carry a fullback at all? That's how overlooked Stanley Havili was after a rookie season spent on the practice squad as a seventh-round pick. Now? Havili has made such a mark through five games that he's drawing praise from teammates like this:
"Stanley's been playing well," said LeSean McCoy. "Nobody's perfect, but he's playing very, very well. Tons of blocks. He's a second-year player, it looks like he's been in there for about five, four years. I'm happy to have him. He's probably the best fullback I've played with in the NFL, college, all that."
Havili has been a mainstay in the Eagles' running game over the past few games. According to ProFootballFocus, he has the fourth-best blocking rating among NFL fullbacks and he's even been a reliable occasional option as a rusher. That Havili has become so important to the offense is no surprise to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
"I don't believe I'm surprised because when we acquired Stanley, right off the bat you could see the natural instincts," Mornhinweg said. "He's an instinctive player. He can do an awful lot. He's got excellent hands. He can run the football. He's an excellent blocker. So, he is an excellent player for us and has done a fine job at the fullback spot and we'll continue to use him in many different ways."
Entering the season, Havili wasn't even concerned about impacting the offense.
"My mindset going into the year was to make a splash on special teams," he said. "I want to be a good special teams player. Fullbacks in this league have to play special teams."
Mission accomplished so far for Havili, who is tied for second on the team with 43 special teams production points, trailing only Alex Henery.
But like any true fullback, Havili still derives the most pleasure from setting others up for success.
"It's more satisfying for me to get a good block than to carry the football," he said. "It's my job to block. Carrying the football is just icing on the cake."
So what does he think about McCoy's comments? As far as Havili is concerned, there's still a lot of work to be done.
"I think I'm growing," he said. "I still have a lot of room for improvement."
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