ASHBURN — It was a simple question with an unexpected answer.
The Redskins aren’t sure if long snapper Nick Sundberg can play this Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers. He suffered a back injury lifting weights this week and remains sore – enough so that the Redskins spent Friday working out potential short-term replacements.
But a hypothetical was asked: What if Sundberg is cleared to play, but then gets hurt during the game again? Who would the Redskins turn to on an emergency basis? Washington coach Jay Gruden just smiled and said: “Colt McCoy.”
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound backup quarterback? The guy who almost took Texas to a national title? Reporters were…perplexed.
“He’s pretty good actually,” Gruden insisted. “Not much of a blocker, but he’s pretty good – though neither is Sundberg.”
The gentle jab aside, Sundberg has been on the roster since 2010 so he’s been a reliable presence for years at a spot that gets almost no attention unless a terrible mistake occurs. They haven’t happened often under Sundberg’s watch and that doesn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.
So how, exactly, did the Redskins find out McCoy was a good long snapper.
“Process of elimination,” Gruden said.
How many were eliminated?
“Everybody,” Gruden cracked. “Yeah. He’s the best one we’ve got. Fingers crossed.”
The jokes just kept coming. But these are the things that keep football coaches awake at night, too. Washington would rather not have to replace Sundberg if his back injury isn’t a long-term issue, but if it does then it’s necessary to have a plan in place.
McCoy actually lobbied for the spot, insisting he could do it. But has Gruden ever actually used a quarterback as a long snapper?
“No – this would be a first,” Gruden deadpanned.
The special teams crew didn’t want to think about missing Sundberg, who has been so reliable for punter Tress Way and kicker Dustin Hopkins. But they confirmed McCoy is good as advertised. He was the long snapper in practice on Friday while the team worked out the potential new options on a side field.
Way said McCoy can fire spirals “with a little bit of zip” and that he’s so competitive he gets mad at himself if the snaps are even a little off – much to the delight of his teammates.
“I hate to give credit to a Longhorn, but the dude can snap,” said Way, an Oklahoma graduate. “You want to talk about all-around athlete – ping pong, basketball. I think he’s our backup punter, too. The dude can do it all. So, yeah, he did it today and he did a good job.”
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