Week Sixteen is complete and just one week remains in the NFL’s regular season. Despite the COVID pandemic, the NFL and its players have managed to get through the entire season.
There have been significant impacts caused by the virus, especially at the snapper position. For example, Taybor Pepper of the Niners was the latest snapper placed on the COVID reserve list following Sunday’s game. Colin Holba just terminated his Rams practice squad contract, so I am connecting the dots to conclude that Holba returns to the Niners if Pepper cannot snap in Sunday’s finale. However, the Niners have also brought in Drew Scott for a tryout.
Christian Kuntz was released from the Steelers practice squad this week, but is expected to be brought back soon. Anthony Kukwa became a recent addition to the Texans practice squad, leaving eight snappers on practice squads as of today after Holba ended his practice squad deal. I anticipated that most teams in contention for the playoffs would acquire snapper insurance by adding a snapper to the practice squad, but, as of now, just four playoff teams (Baltimore, Miami, Tampa Bay and Tennessee) have done so.
Two snappers recorded tackles in punt coverage this week, as Blake Ferguson (Dolphins) had a solo tackle and Kameron Canaday (Steelers) added an assisted tackle. With a week left, Thomas Hennessy of the Jets leads all snappers with five total tackles.
The NFL Long Snappers Chart after Week Sixteen is below.
Week Fifteen saw an uncharacteristic poor extra point snap from Rick Lovato of the Eagles and a failed fake punt by the Lions. The fake punt was apparently not authorized by the coaching staff and cost special teams coach Brayden Coombs, in his first year with the team, his job. Marquice Williams will coach the special teams units in Detroit for the final two games.
The Buccaneers had a scare when snapper Zach Triner, along with the team’s kicker and punter, were all placed on the COVID reserve list early this week. However, Triner was cleared and able to snap. The team did add veteran Garrison Sanborn to the practice squad and he is the ninth snapper on a practice squad this week. One other snapper, Lucas Gravelle, had a tryout with the Saints.
A milestone was also reached this week as L.P. Ladouceur of the Cowboys set the record for most NFL games played by a Canadian player at 251, all of which have been consecutive.
The Pro Bowl teams were announced last night, with Morgan Cox (Ravens) selected for his fourth and Tyler Ott (Seahawks) his first. There will be no actual Pro Bowl game this year and Hunter Bradley (Packers) and Kameron Canaday (Steelers) won the first ever fan voting conducted for the snapper position.
In punt coverage, five snappers recorded tackles, with James Winchester (Chiefs) recording a solo and assisted tackle, while Thomas Hennessy (Jets) and Taybor Pepper (Niners) added solo stops. Jacob Bobbenmoyer (Broncos) and Cole Mazza (Chargers) had assisted tackles.
The NFL Long Snappers Chart after Week Fifteen is below.
Week Fourteen is complete and the NFL continues to get games played, in full and generally as scheduled, despite the pandemic.
In game action, Taybor Pepper (Niners) made a nice play to down a punt at the one- yard line against Washington, while the Vikings kicking unit continues to struggle in field goals and extra points.
I have anticipated all season that any team in contention for the playoffs will look to add an experienced snapper to the practice squad since the time to find a replacement is lengthy due to testing protocols. Rule changes allow the practice squad to consist of 16 players and veterans are eligible. This allows teams to add an experienced snapper in case of emergency, as some teams have done all year.
This week, the Rams became the eighth and latest team to add a veteran to the practice squad by signing Colin Holba. The Texans may add Anthony Kukwa, who is visiting the team and spent time with them previously. Drew Ferris had a tryout with the Chargers this week and veteran Kyle Nelson is expected to tryout with the Raiders.
Two snappers, Cole Mazza (Chargers) and Thomas Hennessy (Jets), each added assisted tackles in punt coverage this week.
The NFL Long Snappers Chart after Week Fourteen is below.
Yesterday, 10 senior FBS long snappers were announced as semifinalists for the second annual Patrick Mannelly Award. Had this year gone as planned, we would have been handing out the Award Saturday in a live ceremony before a few hundred guests outside of Chicago, Illinois.
Because of COVID, we will be announcing the final 3 snapper names on December 22 and the entire Award selection committee will be selecting the winner, to be revealed in a virtual ceremony on January 9.
Below is a graphic of the names. Like last year, it is a very difficult task to narrow the list, as there are many great snappers that, unfortunately, did not get to this point. We congratulate all of these snappers, as well as those that submitted film and made our Watch List published earlier this season.
Week Thirteen is nearly complete, as the Cowboys and Ravens will conclude the week tonight. In last Wednesday’s Ravens game, Nick Moore made his NFL debut filling in for Morgan Cox, who was on the COVID reserve list. Moore performed well, but Cox has now been activated and Moore will likely remain on the practice squad.
The Bengals added Dan Godsil to the practice squad after an illness impacted Clark Harris, although Harris was able to snap this week. The only tryout this past week was Colin Holba, who worked out for the Chargers. The Vikings waived Austin Cutting, although they may bring him back to the practice squad this season.
Subject to any snapper tackles in punt coverage tonight, there were three snappers that recorded tackles this week, two of which are brothers! Reid Ferguson (Bills) had the only solo tackle, while his brother Blake (Dolphins) tallied an assisted tackle, as did Jaguars rookie Ross Matiscik.
The NFL Long Snappers Chart through most of Week Thirteen is below.
COVID has impacted everything this year in a dramatic fashion and college football is no different. As one of the founders of the Patrick Mannelly Award, started last year to recognize the best FBS senior long snapper, I was concerned that the second year of the Award would not happen.
Fortunately, all but a few FBS teams are playing and there are many excellent candidates for the Award. While we did publish an initial Watch List before the season, some snappers have opted out of playing or, in one instance, play for one of the three teams that did not return to play.
Along with the other Award founders, Chris Rubio and Patrick Mannelly, we are hard at work carefully evaluating senior snappers to narrow the field to the semi-finalist list of 10 snappers.
Those 10 names will be announced publicly on December 9, 2020. Those 10 will be narrowed to three on December 22, 2020 and the Award will be given, in a largely virtual event, on January 9, 2021. At least that is the current plan. Stay tuned!
Week Twelve is largely complete, as the Ravens and Steelers game has been moved to tomorrow. Due to COVID issues, it is expected that the Ravens will have Nick Moore snap in place of Morgan Cox. The Ravens are one of a handful of teams that have kept a long snapper on its practice squad since the start of the season and for this very reason. This trend could continue and the Steelers became the latest team when they added Christian Kuntz to the practice squad this week.
The Titans used Matt Overton for a fourth straight week and the Vikings had Andrew DePaola snap for a second straight week. Matt Orzech has been waived from the Titans roster, although Austin Cutting remains on the Vikings active roster for now.
Just one snapper, Dan Godsil, had a tryout this past week and worked out for the Chargers.
With fan voting for the Pro Bowl still underway, the two top vote getters at the snapping position are Kameron Canaday (Steelers) and Hunter Bradley (Packers).
Casey Krieter (Giants) and Luke Rhodes (Colts) each had solo tackles in punt coverage this week, while Cole Mazza (Chargers) and Taybor Pepper (Niners) added assisted tackles.
The NFL Long Snappers Chart after (most) of Week Twelve is below.
Week Eleven of the NFL is done and there were more changes at the snapping position. Andrew DePaola returned to the NFL and snapped well for the Vikings. Austin Cutting had been having issues and the team signed DePaola to the practice squad during the week and activated him for the game. DePaola last snapped in Week One of 2018 for the Raiders. Matt Overton snapped for the Titans for the third consecutive week, as Matt Orzech also remains on the 53 man roster in Tennessee.
Kyle Nelson also had a tryout this week with the Vikings before they signed DePaola and Christian Kuntz worked out for the Steelers.
Charley Hughlett snapped for the Browns this week, although he was close to being placed on the COVID reserve list earlier in the week. Giants snapper Casey Kreiter, who was on a bye, was placed on the COVID reserve list, but is now cleared to play in Week Twelve.
Jon Weeks snapped for the Texans this week and set the team’s franchise record for his 170th game.
In game action, four snappers recorded tackles in punt coverage, as Clark Harris (Bengals) and James Winchester (Chiefs) had solo tackles, while Josh Harris (Falcons) and JJ Jansen (Panthers) each had assisted tackles.
The NFL Long Snappers Chart after Week Eleven is below.
Since 2004, the NFL Pro Bowl has included a long snapper on each team. Until last year, the two snappers were selected by each coaching staff, with the limitation that they who could not select their own team’s snapper.
Things changed last season, when all the current long snappers got together and decided to vote amongst themselves to choose the Pro Bowl snappers. That process led to Morgan Cox (Ravens) representing the AFC and Rick Lovato (Eagles) chosen for the NFC squad.
Fan voting has just started for the Pro Bowl for the 2020 season and now the fans will get to choose the snappers just like they do for every other position in the game.
Of course, because it is 2020, this year’s Pro Bowl will be a virtual event, but it will still be very interesting to see the snappers that are chosen by popular vote. While I liked last year’s process to leave it up to current NFL snappers to choose the best two, the fact that snappers have earned the right to be voted on like every other position is still a positive development for the brand.