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Nick Sundberg And His Mom (And His Back Tattoo) All Know Long Snapping

Posted by Matt Terl on August 30, 2010 – 4:44 pm

The conventional wisdom on Nick Sundberg‘s training camp and preseason is so widely-accepted that even his mom agrees with it. “In the games he’s done really well. He struggled a little bit in camp,” she said.

(I stopped to talk to Stacie Sundberg outside of New Meadowlands Stadium on Friday, largely because I was startled by the unlikely-seeming sight of a woman wearing the first-year long snapper’s Redskins #57 jersey. But this wasn’t unusual for her: Stacie Sundberg has attended every one of Nick’s games, from high school through college and into his brief pro career.)

Being Nick’s mom, though, Stacie Sundberg was able to go a little beyond that conventional wisdom and explain how the ups and downs had all felt to Nick. “He did well up until camp and then I think the reality of it all kinda got to him a little bit,” she said. “But he got himself back together, and his words to me were ‘The games are much easier than practice.'”

Indeed, Sundberg has definitely rebounded from his shaky moments, but he remains in a competition with veteran James Dearth for the position. If schooling and training have any influence on the results (they don’t, really, but work with me), Sundberg will be hard to beat.

His high school coach was Ben Bernard, also of Arizona Elite Longsnapping, and Bernard started working with Sundberg in high school. “Nick never missed a day of practice for regular football,” Stacie Sundberg said, “and then he had to go, work out, run, and snap a minimum of 200 balls a day, and he’s been doing that for nine years.”

While Nick was getting his education, Stacie had to follow along. “Basically,” she said, “I had to learn what a good snap was.” Now she calls Coach Bernard with play-by-plays from Nick’s games that he can’t get to, and watches every one of Nick’s snaps on DVR, taking still pictures of every part of his motion.

And she’s not unhappy that her son isn’t the star quarterback or running back or whatever. “From a mother’s point of view it’s a perfect position,” she said. “They’re only in the game — if it’s a high scoring game — maybe twelve to fifteen times. It’s great to come out and see him play and know that he gets to participate at this level and can have longevity at a position that’s not gonna beat him up too quickly.”

The strangest coincidence about this whole meeting was that Sundberg had actually just mentioned his mother to me a day or so before, when I was asking about his unexpectedly colorful full-back tattoo. Read more »

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Malcolm Kelly Suffers Setback

Posted by Matt Terl on August 30, 2010 – 2:41 pm

The picture above — wide receiver Malcolm Kelly about to catch a pass — is not from today. It could’ve been; at about 11:30 Larry Weisman tweeted about Kelly’s “long-awaited” return to practice. The the media portion of practice closed and something happened.

“I really don’t know how bad it is,” head coach Mike Shanahan told the media after practice. “It’s definitely a setback.” Shanahan didn’t rule out the possibility of Kelly making the team or being placed on injured reserve, but in a crowded field of wide receivers, not being able to play at all can’t be a good thing for Kelly.

This is hugely disappointing news for Kelly, who was sounding relatively optimistic yesterday for the first time in weeks. “I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling a lot better than I have,” he said yesterday.

“We’ll see how it goes tomorrow in practice,” he said yesterday.

“The clock has been ticking,” he said yesterday.

“Tomorrow’ll really be the true test of what I’ll be able to do,” he said yesterday.

And it seems to have been. Unfortunately, the results weren’t exactly what he had hoped. Read more »

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DeAngelo Hall Is Encouraged By Last Year’s Defense (In A Roundabout Way)

Posted by Matt Terl on August 30, 2010 – 12:47 pm

DeAngelo Hall intercepted Mark Sanchez in the second quarter of Friday night’s game, just stepping in front of Dustin Keller and taking the ball for what looked at the time like a sure pick-6. Then he cut to the inside of the field instead of the outside to beat Sanchez’s tackle and wound up caught from behind by Jerricho Cotchery. (The video is below.) This earned Hall some ribbing from his teammates, but he shrugged that off.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Hall told me. “The cutback looked good. I didn’t know Jerricho Cotchery was gonna be running me down full tilt — I didn’t even see him around.”

Now we get to the part of the story where I make myself look dumb.
Read more »

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Brian Orakpo Is Very Confident

Posted by Matt Terl on August 30, 2010 – 10:13 am

Former Redskins linebacker (and current talk radio personality) LaVar Arrington has started blogging for the Washington Post. In general, I like these former-player-POV things — see also: Ross Tucker, Matt Bowen, others that I’m not remembering right now — and so far Arrington’s work has been no exception. But the post he put up Saturday — “Redskins-Jets game: Some questions about the 3-4 and how Brian Orakpo is being used” — made me curious.

Arrington’s essential contention is that playing linebacker Brian Orakpo on both sides of the defense in different situations is a bad idea, for a couple of reasons: the stance is different, the responsibilities are different, and also:

By moving Orakpo from side to side, Haslett is giving the offense an opportunity to identify the defense’s tendencies — which gives the offense an added advantage in identifying blitzes or pass coverages. But also keep in mind that Orakpo is still learning to be a linebacker in the NFL. So I’m wondering why Haslett is not simplifying the defense for him as much as possible.

Arrington sounds convincing, and he carries the weight of experience; even though, as he notes in the post, he was not a 3-4 linebacker, he WAS an NFL linebacker. So I figured I’d ask Orakpo himself his thoughts on the subject during yesterday’s open locker room. His opening response — “Actually, I’m good, man,” — provides the summary, but he did go into a bit more detail. Read more »

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