It’s something that the majority of football fans spend virtually no time at all thinking about, but the Pittsburgh Steelers have reason to ponder it this year: are they going to be able to see consistent play from the long snapper position in 2017?
They really haven’t had to ask this question in over a decade, having had Greg Warren in place for so long. Even for the parts of two seasons that he missed, they had Jared Retkofsky at the ready to fill in. but this year, with Warren de facto retired due to health concerns after multiple knee tears, they are moving on to Colin Holba, drafted in the sixth round.
I must admit that it was a topic that even slipped my mind over the course of the offseason, with so many other areas of the team to focus on, but I was reminded of this concern recently by a commenter, so I wanted to touch base on the matter again.
We generally know the deal by now, but we don’t know the end result. Holba is going to get plenty of activity working with Chris Boswell and Jordan Berry in training camp and in the preseason, and he will have between now and the start of the regular season to build up a rapport that is going to lead to consistent results.
While Warren may be retired, it is my impression that he is still at Holba’s disposal as he gets his foot in the door in the NFL. The veteran long snapper was only on the roster for a short period of time after the rookie was drafted, so they probably didn’t get to work together a lot hands-on at the team facility, but they could still work together informally.
Holba recently pointed toward Warren as a bit of a mentor when asked that question for the team’s website. He also mentioned Patrick Mannelly, who like Warren was another veteran long snapper. In fact, Mannelly played from 1998 to 2013, playing 245 games, the most in Bears history.
A lot of people have a hard time viewing the specialists as athletes, let alone football players, but they certainly see themselves that way. Holba described himself as “super competitive” at virtually everything, including running sprints.
He also talked about the fact that he spent two years in high school focusing on baseball rather than football, and how the time away made him appreciate the game even more, and helped set him on a course that would lead to pursuing a spot on an NFL roster.
He set out during his senior season with the goal in mind of making it to the Senior Bowl, and then getting a Combine invitation, because the ones who took that path have gotten drafted. He accomplished those goals, and the Steelers took him in the sixth round. Now it’s up to him to show that they made an accurate selection with consistent pin-point accuracy on his snaps.