As most aspiring professional long snappers know, it is very rare to have an open job in the NFL and even more unusual to have two rookies compete for it. However, that is the exact scenario facing the Arizona Cardinals following the retirement of veteran Mike Leach after last season.
Matthew Bain of AZ Central Sports wrote an interesting story the other day about the competition between rookies Danny Dillon and Kameron Canaday. Bain describes how special teams coach Amos Jones, who coached Leach and, before that, Greg Warren from his time with the Steelers, was in an unusual position of having to find a replacement.
Given the blessing of General Manager Steve Keim to “find the guys you like”, Jones worked out about 12 long snappers but were focused on small school snappers Dillon from Campbell University and Canaday from Portland State. Both were signed as undrafted free agents and are roommates now competing for the job.
Of note in the story is that, during his search, Jones focused on the few remaining college teams that still use the punt protection schemes employed in the NFL requiring that the snapper block and protect before covering downfield. Jones felt that finding a guy who knew how to protect was critical since it would minimize the amount of things the new snapper had to learn.