New Eagles Long Snapper Rick Lovato Hoping for Anonymity

It was an open competition. Even if nobody realized it.

Jon Dorenbos, a two-time Pro Bowl long snapper, a veteran of 14 seasons, an Eagle for over a decade, vs. Rick Lovato, who has played seven games for four teams since graduating from Old Dominion.

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One guy who's a world-renowned magician and TV superstar vs. another guy you probably never heard of before Monday evening.

Turns out it was an open competition. And Lovato learned Monday night that he's the winner.

"My special teams coach (Dave Fipp) said he wanted us to go into training camp as if this was a competition and it was," Lovato said Tuesday.

"I just wanted to go in with my head down, do my job, not try to be noticeable or anything like that. But I really hold myself to a high standard, so I wanted to win this job. And I felt like I did that, and I'm just really happy with how it happened."

Lovato, 24, was declared the winner of the Eagles' long snapping competition when the Eagles shipped Dorenbos to the Saints Monday evening for a 2019 seventh-round pick.

Lovato played two games for the Packers in 2015 and then two games with the Redskins in 2016 and three more with the Eagles last year when Dorenbos was hurt.

"Rick has done a nice job, even going back to last season when he came in late in the season and filled in for us last year," head coach Doug Pederson said.

"Competition makes everybody better. At the end of the day, [we] felt like he was in a good position to help our football team."

Dorenbos has snapped in 201 games and is one of 18 players still active in the NFL that was also playing in 2003.

"Jon was such a big mentor for me," Lovato said. "He helped me here, he helped me develop into the snapper that I am.

"Being a guy going into his third year, he's been a guy to learn from. I haven't really experienced it like he has. I don't want to take anything away from him because he really is a great guy and I liked having him as a mentor."

Dorenbos replaced injured Mike Bartrum midway through the 2006 season and with the exception of three games late last year, he was the long snapper for punts and kicks for a decade.

His departure leaves Brent Celek as the only player left on the Eagles' roster who played in a postseason victory in an Eagles uniform.

"I'm not necessarily trying to fill his shoes because he did such a good job here," Lovato said. "Honestly, there's no taking anything away from him.

"So I just want to come in here and do my job and be unnoticed. He really was such a big part of this city, this organization, what he did in this locker room. And I felt that the moment I met him when I came in here last year. I just want to come in here and do my job and help this team win."

Lovato grew up in Central Jersey and attended Middletown South High School before spending four years at Old Dominion.

When training camp began, he might have been one of the biggest longshots on the 90-man roster.

Now, he's an Eagle, and as a first-year pro, he'll earn $540,000 this year if he stays with the team all year.

Brandon Graham, now one of only seven Eagles who's been here since the Andy Reid Era, said he was "shocked but not surprised" that Dorenbos was shipped.

"I was kind of shocked because he's been here so long," Graham said. "But ... the long snapper, it was a good competition. And I think (Lovato) probably got the better end of it.

"Dorenbos came off a wrist injury. I know things were a little different (for him) because he had to rehab and do a lot of things. I think overall they know what type of guy (Lovato) is and it just shows how much of a business this is.

"Because Dorenbos is a great guy, you'd want him to be here as long as he can. But at the end of the day, it's all about competition and it sucks when you have a guy that's been here a long time that has to go."

When a receiver or a cornerback is struggling, everybody can see it. When a long snapper is struggling?

Nobody knew.

"It was just consistency," Lovato said. "That's the main thing in this game, just being as consistent as possible, having nice velocity on my snaps, good accuracy on my field goals, good protection on punts.

"I feel like I got a lot better at that through this whole offseason and training camp. But it was just something that I had to keep doing and keep my head down and go at it 100 miles per hour."

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who goes back to 2009 with Dorenbos, said he had a long talk with the veteran long snapper Monday evening.

"We talked and kind of reminisced a little bit," he said. "I just told him how much I appreciated him, how much I loved him and what he's done for not only this organization but this city and wished him well."

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