Nick Sundberg knew his left arm was broken, but it was up to Washington Redskins long snapper whether he'd stay in Sunday's game. He watched center Will Montgomery practicing long snaps on the sideline with holder Sav Rocca and his mind was made up.
"I looked at it, 'I'm going back out there,'" Sundberg said. "That was kind of how it happened."
Long snapping is a specialty position in football, and that Sundberg did it an entire half with a broken arm was commendable and worthy of a 4½-minute "SportsCenter" interview earlier this week. But he can't do it another game, so the Redskins signed veteran Justin Snow at least until Sundberg can come back. Sundberg is on injured reserve but the Redskins designated him for return in Week 9.
Snow spent the past 12 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts but was released last month. Now he has to develop chemistry all over again, with Rocca and kicker Billy Cundiff.
"I've never had to do it, so it's kind of uncharted territory at the moment," Snow said. "It's something we all go through. Everybody's going to have, whether it be an injury or a new kicker, a new holder, whatever the case is, it's going to take time, it's going to take that chemistry just having the reps and having the practice."
Cundiff's relatively new, too, signed just before the final preseason game to replace Graham Gano. The rhythm that Cundiff said he was finally starting to feel Sunday at the New Orleans Saints will have to come back with time.
In Snow's case, he's just glad to be back on an NFL roster. He got to enjoy spending more time with his three kids, but now it's time to get back to work. Getting cut was a new experience but not something the 35-year-old let bother him.
"I just told myself, 'There's nothing to be ashamed of.' I played 12 years with one organization, a winning organization at that, so I have a lot to be grateful for," Snow said. "To try to put a negative on that, it's unfortunate, but it's part of the game. It's a business and you just have to understand that coming into it."
Sundberg playing with a broken arm wasn't just business. Snow called it "outrageous" in praising him.
But Montgomery seemed almost offended when questioned about his ability to do some long snaps if Sundberg wasn't able to.
"It's kind of like riding a bike: Once you do it, you never forget how to do it," he said. "I did it in high school, I did it in the college all-star game. In 2007, I did it in the Jets preseason game. So it's something I'm comfortable with doing."
It's more like riding a unicycle. It's a specialized art, something the Oakland Raiders learned the hard way Monday night. When long snapper Jon Condo, a Maryland grad, was hurt, backup Travis Goethel struggled badly, rolling one and bouncing one back to punter Shane Lechler.
The Raiders lost 22-14, but the importance of the long snapper position was brought into the spotlight.
"I think a lot of times it gets overlooked until a situation like that happens and losing a game," Snow said. "It's unfortunate, but there's only one of us. Unless you have a great backup, that can happen. It's unfortunate, it really is."
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