It’s a mid-afternoon special teams practice at Redskin Park. Ethan Albright is in his element. This is his forte, an hourlong celebration of kicking and punting and - oh yes, long snapping.
This is what has earned the 6-foot-5, 257-pound “athlete” a 13-year NFL career and the chance to play for coaching legends like Don Shula and Joe Gibbs. Sessions such as these devoted to the addendum of the pigskin playbook have earned this father of four a trip to the Pro Bowl and iconic status on the sidelines at FedEx Field. This is the NFL’s second-longest tenured long snapper’s time to shine.
Albright is shining all right, but not because he leads the pack or barks orders like Peyton Manning at the line of scrimmage. No, it’s the glare off his shock of red hair, shimmering in the summer rays, that catches the eye.
He’s down on one knee, chatting with punter Derrick Frost, his partner in fourth-down crime. By the look on their faces, the conversation has nothing to do with the kickoff drill the head hunters are performing in front of them nor the “skill” position players’ punt-coverage exercise nearby.
“OK, good job. Take a break,” special teams coach Danny Smith hollers, sending the special teamers scattering off in search of water.
Albright stands up awkwardly, readjusts himself and continues talking to Frost. Ten minutes pass. The long snapper tosses the ball to his punter. Practice ends. Albright, one of three returning Redskins players who last season earned a Pro Bowl selection, has hardly moved an inch.
“We have 43 days before the Giants game,” he says. “We still have a long haul, and it’s a long season.”
Albright doesn’t despise the drudgery of practice. It’s just after spending so much time with his head hunched between his legs, he has gained a certain perspective. He has been around since the pre-special teams practice days, before long snapper morphed into a position all its own.
“You know Ethan’s been doing this a long time,” Smith says. “Ethan is a quality person that takes his trade very seriously, he works extremely hard at it and is excellent at doing it. I would say he is the best snapper in the National Football League.”
No Redskins player can remember the last time a punter had to chase an errant snap or a holder had to dig a ball out of the turf for a field goal. Albright has remained consistent through the years.
Asked to name his favorite Ethan Albright story, center Casey Rabach declines.
“We would be out here for hours,” Rabach says. “I can’t tell you anything that wouldn’t embarrass him too bad.”
With Albright there is always a story. Like the one about how he got his nickname, the “Red Snapper …”
“Got that my rookie year,” Albright says. “I was with the Dolphins. In camp, veterans get bored. [Former Miami defensive end] Trace Armstrong was one of the veterans, and he started giving rookies nicknames. I came in, a red-headed guy in Miami, sunburned like crazy, and I was doing the long snapping. [One night at dinner] they are bringing all this seafood out, and he was right behind me, ‘You’re the Red Snapper.’ It just stuck. Ever since then.”
Perhaps it’s because they’re noticed only when they falter, but snappers tend to gravitate toward the eccentric.View Entire Story
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