Not much has changed for Rob Havenstein as he enters his eighth NFL season. Even his house, the Wisconsin alum claims, is in the relatively same condition it started since he first descended upon Southern California in 2016.
Alas, a broader look at Havenstein’s professional endeavors feature tinkering beyond his control.
Havenstein, whose next regular season game with be his 100th with a curled yellow Ram horn, is the elder statesman of a blocking unit that played a big role in February’s Super Bowl victory.
Two members of that unit are gone as the coming championship defense looms: Andrew Whitworth retired and Austin Corbett will report to Carolina’s activities. The loss of the inspirational Whitworth will particularly sting and Havenstein is directly impacted by it.
Seeing as he has multiple years on each of his primary blockers, he’ll likely be called upon to take on a greater leadership role. If he succeeds, a further reward lingers beyond another ring, as Havenstein is facing a contract year.
When it comes to both ventures, Havenstein is opting to place his faith in a team-based setting. His agent will handle any contract negotiations. His teammates of him will collectively work on the leadership.
“In terms of a leadership standpoint, I think we have a good collective in the room,” Havenstein said in his first statements of training camp. “Guys kind of spit ideas off each other, bounce things off each other, and everyone’s kind of working together. I think that’s something special about this room.”
To his point, Havenstein was intrigued by the initiative taken by AJ Arcuri, the seventh-round newcomer that’s currently slated to back him up at right tackle. Havenstein said that taking Arcuri aside never occurred to him but that the rookie instead peppered him with questions during their first days working together.
Scroll to Continue
“I think that’s an important detail because for a young guy to ask questions, it shows me he cares. It shows me that he actually wants to do it,” he said. “He wants to be here. There has been a handful of guys over the years that have done that. AJ wants to get the steps down.”
The veteran eventually got to dispense some traditional veteran wisdom when an overzealous Arcuri struggled in early drills.
“I kind of had to reel him in and be like, ‘Hey, it’s day one. You’ve never done these drills before with us. Calm down a little bit.’ And he did and he smoothed it out and eventually got it right,” Havenstein recalled. “Looking for good things from him this year. He is a hard worker. Ready for him to take a good step when we’re actually playing football.”
While Havenstein will work with new names in the starting five, he’s hardly a stranger to some of the arrivals. Havenstein had particular praise for Joseph Noteboom, who’s back on a $40 million extension.
Noteboom was often placed behind Whitworth but earned his new payday through some standout performances, namely neutralizing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ mighty pass rush in the NFC Divisional playoffs. Havenstein already knows what Noteboom’s capable of and believes that his years of working under Whitworth will only enhance his game.
“Joe’s an incredible athlete … (he’s a) hard worker, incredible athlete, love being around the guy,” Havenstein said. “He is one of the smoothest athletes I’ve ever seen. It’s honestly annoying at times because he just makes it look so effortless. With how strong and lean and quick and grounded as that guy is, I’m excited to see what he does.”
The returning duo will be joined by fellow familiar faces Brian Allen and David Edwards, the latter of whom will line up next to the tackle Noteboom on the left side. Third-round rookie Logan Bruss is set to work next to Havenstein at right guard, assuming the role Corbett left behind. His arrival allowed Havenstein to take on a new brand of initiative.
Taking one of the lessons he learned from Whitworth, Havenstein sought to infuse his preseason workouts with like-minded individuals and shared endeavors in Madison were the perfect ingredients. Josh Seltzner, an undrafted rookie with the Indianapolis Colts, was likewise implied to be on hand.
“(Bruss) was all in. I think he was there the first day he got back. The rookie stayed out a little bit longer for OTAs but just wanted to get around him,” Havenstein said. “Working out with guys in your room, there’s always that little bit of competition that you can’t get on your own. That’s something I wanted to do again.”