The Eagles answered the question of who their emergency long snapper is on Sunday. The coaching staff prepares for contingencies at every position, but the loss of both the long snapper and the emergency long snapper during a game is not usually a concern.
In the Eagles' 27-22 loss to the Washington Redskins, long snapper Jon Dorenbos left with a wrist injury in the third quarter and Brent Celek left with a stinger in the fourth after taking Dorenbos' duties. Trey Burton and Mychal Kendricks both practiced their snaps on the sideline, with Burton snapping on a fourth-quarter field goal.
"They obviously get a little bit of work," coach Doug Pederson said. "They're not getting a ton of reps. . . . It's rare you get even your third guy that much time even in practice."
The results were mixed. There were three snaps with backups - two that happened without incident, and one that was a problem.
Celek snapped a grounder to holder Donnie Jones on a 50-yard field-goal try in the third quarter that kicker Caleb Sturgis couldn't even attempt. The field goal would have given the Eagles a 16-13 lead, and Washington benefited from favorable field position to drive down for a touchdown.
"I think when something like that happens, you just have to step up and do it," Celek said. "It was my job to step up and be the snapper. Obviously, I did not do a good job on that first one that was a field goal. I am a professional and I should get it done."
Celek had a successful snap on a fourth-quarter punt before his injury. Burton's snap on Sturgis' 41-yard field goal sailed high, but Jones got it down to allow Sturgis to kick.
"[Jones] did a great job," Burton said. "It was really high and he snagged it and brought it down. He's obviously really good at what he does."
After the field goal, Sturgis ran over the embrace Burton. The two were college teammates at Florida.
"I trust him to play any position the field," Sturgis said. "He just about did at Florida. . . . The guy's unbelievable."
Celek said he practices long snapping "here and there" each week. There are not many snaps, but it's enough that he said he feels comfortable when needed. The last time he snapped in a game was in preseason two seasons ago. He realized in the game that the NFL's kicking footballs are different than the regular footballs.
"I don't know why they do that, but it was real waxy," Celek said.
Burton said he practiced long snapping while in college and during the summer, but he had not done it since training camp. He took a few practice snaps on the sideline before entering the game.
"Brent got hurt and I was the next man up," Burton said. "I wouldn't have done it if it didn't feel good."
Kendricks' long snapping actually came of his own accord. He started practicing by himself year thinking it could help career longevity. He snapped on the sideline Sunday because he wanted to be ready in case the coaches asked him. Plus, with his responsibilities shrinking at linebacker, Kendricks wouldn't mind any way onto the field.
"I literally sometimes on a random day get like a hundred snaps in by myself to try to hit a target," Kendricks said. "That's for me 10 years down the line."
It didn't come down to Kendricks, but the Eagles needed to be more creative than they anticipated. It makes the injury status of Dorenbos important to monitor, because the long snapper's value is most evident when he's not available.