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Eagles’ Long-Snapper Circus a Costly Sideshow in Loss to Redskins

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No, the Eagles were not holding open tryouts for a long snapper in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 27-22 loss to Washington (see Instant Replay).

It just looked that way. 

After longtime long snapper Jon Dorenbos suffered a wrist injury and his backup Brent Celek suffered a stinger, the Eagles were driving down the field trailing by two points. Trey Burton, who eventually filled in as the third long snapper, was on the field with the offense. 

That’s when Mychal Kendricks took it upon himself to grab a football on the sideline and start long snapping to punter Donnie Jones.

“I don't know what Kendricks was doing, but I know I was the third guy (on the depth chart),” Burton said.

Kendricks said he wasn’t asked by coaches to start snapping, but he practices on his own quite often. He just wanted to be ready.

“I just did it. I just did it,” Kendricks said. “I'm ready for whatever, man. S---. I'm not playing much anyway, ya feel me?”

Where is Kendricks on the long-snapper depth chart?  

“I'm not on it. I'm just ready,” he said. “I was just ready. You know?”

Kendricks said he began to long snap this year and claimed that he’ll sometimes randomly snap a hundred balls at a time, trying to hit targets. “But that's for me, 10 years down the line, if I can be a backup snapper and be a linebacker too,” Kendricks said. “The more you can do, the longer you can stay in the league. And I'm just trying to learn that.”

The Eagles didn’t need his services in that capacity on Sunday.

Instead, Burton came on the field with five minutes left to play in the fourth quarter. On fourth down at the Washington 23-yard line, Burton snapped the ball high to Jones, but the punter and holder was able to get the snap down in time for Caleb Sturgis to boot a 41-yarder. 

At the time, the field goal gave the Eagles a 22-21 lead. 

“I trust [Burton] to play any position on the field,” Sturgis said. “He just about did at Florida. He added long snapper into his repertoire.”

“I did a couple of (warmups),” Burton said. “I was excited. I'm trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get and it went well. Donnie (Jones) made an unbelievable play. The majority of it's on him and he did a really good job.”

Burton said he practiced long snapping during training camp, but hasn’t really practiced since then. Celek said he snaps some balls every week in practice.

Before Celek was knocked out of the game, his attempt to long snap didn’t go so well.

Celek came into the game with three and a half minutes to go in the third quarter. At the time, the field goal would have given the Eagles a 16-14 lead, but Celek’s snap was low and Jones was forced to try to run with it. He was tackled immediately and Washington scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. 

“I could have done better,” Celek said. “I don't know what else to say. I should have done better.”

He wasn’t willing to deflect any blame just because it was a unique situation. 

“I think when something like that happens, you just have to step up and do it,” he said. “It was my job to step up and be the snapper. Obviously, I did not do a good job on that first one and that was a field goal. I am a professional and I should get it done.” 

There hasn’t been much need for a backup long snapper since Dorenbos got to Philly in 2006. Sunday marked his 162nd consecutive game played, which tied him with Harold Carmichael for the longest streak in franchise history.

“It's rare you get even your third guy that much time even in practice,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “I think it was a credit to Trey stepping up, and Donnie obviously did a great job of getting the ball down and a kick to at least go ahead in the game."

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