BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots love versatility.
So it’s easy to understand why they wanted to bring in Spencer Larsen. Listed as a fullback, Larsen’s duties on the field have gone much further than just one position.
Back in 2008, an injury-plagued Denver Broncos team needed some help at linebacker as they faced off against the Atlanta Falcons. Larsen not only started the game at fullback, he filled in at linebacker as well, becoming the first player to start on both sides of the field since 2003. To add a cherry on top, Larsen also played special teams that afternoon.
“It was a fun time in my career,” Larsen recalled at Gillette Stadium on Thursday. “I’d been playing fullback for a few weeks, and we ran into some injury problems and I needed to play linebacker… It was just one of those exciting days. I didn’t play a whole lot on offense that day. As a fullback you kind of come in and out, so it wasn’t 100-percent taxing. It was a good day’s work.”
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Now a member of the Patriots, Larsen’s versatility must have head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels salivating. But while he is focused on one role for now, fullback, Larsen knows he may be called to wear a few different hats once again now that he’s in New England.
“I came over to play fullback and we’ll see. I’m going to do my best there and try to get a spot on the team and see where I can help,” Larsen said.
Although the Patriots added some more linebacker depth in the draft, after seeing receiver Julian Edelman play some safety last season, Larsen isn’t putting his linebacker days behind him just yet.
“You never know. You just want to do whatever I can to help the team and wherever that is — fullback, special teams, and just try to fill needs.”
While his versatility will certainly help when it comes to his new head coach, Larsen said he still has plenty to prove with a new team.
“The bottom line is it’s a new year and I have to prove that I can play and help in any way I can,” he said.
Coming to New England was very enticing for Larsen, who has never been on a winning team in his four-year NFL career. He also has a few connections to the team, playing under McDaniels in Denver from 2009-10.
Larsen has 17 career carries in 27 games, averaging 3.6 yards per carry. But even though he’s already played in a McDaniels’ offense, he still is not sure what to expect as a fullback, especially since the Patriots also signed Tony Fiammetta.
“Coach McDaniels and being with him in Denver, he just likes to have different things that he can do week-to-week, so who knows?” Larsen said of his potential role with the team. “I don’t think any of us know right now what’s going to happen to that position, I think you just need to work and get better and let that thing happen naturally.”
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“I love playing for him and I loved all the opportunity that he provided for me,” the 28-year-old said of McDaniels. “I’m excited to be back with him.”
An Arizona alum, Larsen also spent time with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in college, who was just a freshman at the time.
“I joke with him; he was a freshman when I was a senior and it was nice to beat him up in college — if you guys believe that,” joked Larsen. “It’s just been good seeing him and seeing the success he’s had and getting to talk with him again.”
Even though Gronk was just a freshman when he was there, Larsen still knew the kid was destined for great things.
“Just incredible. You’ve never seen a guy like that; Big, strong. I swear he looks like he does right now as a freshman coming out of high school,” recalled Larsen. “I couldn’t imagine what he did in high school. He was a good player … He’s one of those guys that comes around that you just feel like man, he’s going to be special. So far he’s proved that.”