Jennings Makes Snapping Look Easy

Back when he was a superstar at Suwanee High School in Live Oak, Fla., Kelly Jennings was also his team’s backup long snapper.

On Sunday, Jennings was asked to reprise that role when Kevin Houser, the Seattle Seahawks’ usual long snapper, left the game with a shoulder injury.

Though Jennings was practicing long snaps on the sideline in the second quarter, he didn’t snap the ball in the game until the late seconds of the third quarter. Taking the field with Seattle’s punt coverage team, Jennings made an accurate snap to Seahawks punter Jon Ryan.

“I prayed about it before I went out there, and I got it back there,” said Jennings, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback.

Long snapping “is harder than you think,” he added. “It has to be perfect every time. If not then it’s a turnover or worse.”

Jennings had never snapped in an NFL game or before that in his years at the University of Miami.

“But I used to keep doing it (at practice), just joking around, because I did it in high school,” he said. “I was just joking around here one day (last season) and they saw me snapping, and then they started talking about it.”

After Houser’s injury, which probably occurred in the first quarter, Jennings was practicing long snaps on the sideline, as were teammates Owen Schmitt, a fullback, and Will Herring, a linebacker. Those three take occasional practice snaps during the week, Jennings said, “but I always knew I was the backup.”

“(Jennings) is not your prototypical long snapper in the National Football League,” said Seahawks coach Jim Mora. “God forbid that we would have had to try a field goal.”

Houser went to the hospital for treatment after the game, which Tampa Bay won 24-7. He was receiving attention on the sideline from Seattle’s medical staff, but continued to snap until his final play, which was on a punt midway through the third quarter.

Houser, who was involved on the tackle of Bucs return man Sammie Stroughter, stayed on the turf for several moments and then left the game for good.

It was not a good game for Houser in other respects, too. He was flagged for a personal-foul penalty on Seattle’s first punt of the game, and then sent a low snap to Ryan, the holder, on Seattle’s first-quarter field goal attempt. The ball caromed away from Ryan and place-kicker Olindo Mare was tackled after retrieving the loose ball.

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