It’s not exactly an exciting subject to talk about, but it is deserving of at least some recognition. For the first time in a good long while, the Pittsburgh Steelers had somebody other than Greg Warren at the long snapper position. The fact that we didn’t really have to spend much of any time thinking about that this year means that his replacement did well.
While he never made the Pro Bowl, Warren was the model of consistency. Originally being brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2005, he beat out a lineman/long snapper that the team had actually drafted for the job, and he was in that position up until this past year.
The only exceptions came a few years into his career, when he had a pair of ugly knee injuries in years back to back. The Steelers had a player named Jared Retkofsky, fortunately, on speed dial, and he had been the only player since 2005 other than Warren up until 2017 to long snap a ball—with the exception of, you know, that one James Harrison snap…
But I digress.
Kameron Canaday actually had a somewhat similar set of circumstances coming into this season. The Steelers drafted Colin Holba in the sixth round, and he was widely regarded as the favorite to win the job.
Naturally, when you draft a long snapper, you anticipate that he is going to be able to win the job.
He didn’t, in the end, with Canaday seemingly narrowly defeating him in a close competition that ran all throughout the spring and summer and into the preseason, right until the end.
He was the Arizona Cardinals’ long snapper as an undrafted rookie for the first three games of the 2016 season before he was released after a couple of questionable snaps. it was Bruce Arians who had let him go. But now he has seemingly found himself a home in Pittsburgh.
While he didn’t have a perfect year by any means—he even was flagged for a false start, if memory serves—he was otherwise quiet, and he helped set special teams records this year with Chris Boswell. The third-year kicker recorded the most points in a single season in team history, and had the most successful field goal makes on top of that.
The Steelers had a field goal attempt and an extra point attempt each blocked, but neither of those instances could be attributed to the snap, nor to pressure up the middle, so Canaday cannot be faulted for that.
That said, he is just a second-year player, and far from established. It should not be at all surprising if the Steelers bring in some legitimate competition for his job next season. Now, they’re not going to draft another long snapper. Still, I wouldn’t expect it to be a huge issue. They had a carousel at punter for a while, but they may be on to a stable group of specialists now.