The NFL continues to tinker with the kicking game and this preseason will be no different. The NFL will experiment with computer chips in kicking balls this preseason to determine how far inside the uprights successful field goals and extra points are.
The goal is to examine whether reducing the distance between the uprights, which is currently set at 18 feet, 6 inches, is necessary. If the preseason test goes well, the NFL will implement the chip during the regular season, but only in Thursday night games.
In announcing these changes, Dean Blandino, the NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, noted that the specialization of the kicking game, “from long snapper to holder to kicker” has caused the NFL to look at making the kick more difficult.
Any snapper can relate to the desire to be perfect. The MMQB recently published a three-part series by Dylan Howlett on the quest for NFL kickers to be perfect at something that cannot be perfected.
Howlett profiles a number of kickers, including former Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding, that also includes comments from his former snapper, David Binn. The author suggests that the kicking position demands “flawlessness” more than any other position in professional sports, and, like the long snapping role, there are “only 32 openings in the world for the privilege, or pressure.”
Once again this year, noted football writer Phil Steele has provided rankings of the top long snappers in college. Phil Steele’s 2016 College Football Preview hit stores this week and, as he has done in the past, Steele includes long snappers on each of his four All-American teams. Cole Mazza of Alabama is the First Team snapper, followed by Zach Smith (USC), Scott Daly (Notre Dame) and Wes Farnsworth (Nevada).
As an added bonus this year, Steele also ranks the top four snappers in each Division One conference. Those snappers will be highlighted when Longsnap.com debuts its exclusive compilation of each Division One long snapper this September.
As the Seahawks continue to search for a replacement for client Clint Gresham, Gresham recently wrote a very personal story on his website at clintgresham.com recounting the day he got the call from Seattle he was being released.
Getting a call like this is one of the toughest aspects of the business of professional sports. However, Clint handled this issue like he does everything else, with both dignity and class.
Although it is always great to publish and read stories about snappers reaching their dreams of getting a chance to play in college or, for a very few, the NFL, the flip side is the inevitable disappointment and rejection that comes when your services are no longer needed. Any aspiring snapper or football fan will benefit from reading Clint’s story.
After releasing client Clint Gresham this off-season, it appears that the efforts to find a replacement snapper are not over in Seattle. The Seahawks signed undrafted rookie Nolan Frese today from the University of Houston.
Frese was a tryout candidate with the Panthers after the Draft and will compete with Drew Ferris in training camp. Prior to signing Ferris, Seattle signed and waived Andrew East, who is now in Oakland.
The CFL season opened last night and with veteran Randy Chevrier currently out of the league, there are no CFL snappers with NFL regular season experience. Only Jorgen Hus has recent NFL training camp experience and Pierre Luc-Caron, who is replacing Chevrier, is the only new starter from last season’s opening day starters.
Below are the 2016 CFL snappers.
British Columbia 40 Mike Benson
Calgary 54 Pierre-Luc Caron
Edmonton 53 Ryan King
Hamilton 47 Aaron Crawford
Montreal 37 Martin Bedard
Ottawa 50 Kevin Malcolm
Saskatchewan 46 Jorgen Hus
Toronto 58 Jake Reinhart
Every NFL team has now completed its off-season program and, in about five weeks, training camps will open. There have been a couple of snapping moves the last few weeks. The Saints waived Chris Highland, although he was brought back for mini-camp this week as a tryout player. In addition, rookie Jeff Overbaugh, who was a tryout candidate for the Rams after the Draft, has now signed a contract with the team.
As of right now, 12 teams have two snappers under contract. Those teams are Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New England, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.