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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 08/31/2011

Rookie lessons, long offseason helped Nick Sundberg

This time a year ago, Nick Sundberg was fighting for a roster spot with the Redskins as a rookie long-snapper.


Long snapper Nick Sundberg, left, with former Redskins kicker Shayne Graham, center, who was cut during preseason, and kicker Graham Gano, right. (Ricky Carioti - WASHINGTON POST)
Sundberg had struggled with consistency on his snaps, sending some too high and others too low. The Redskins brought in 10-year NFL veteran James Dearth to challenge Sundberg. The rookie held onto the job, but still experienced some ups and downs during his first year in the league.

This year, Sundberg has been the only player on the Redskins’ roster other than punter Sav Rocca who has no competition for his job. The Redskins wouldn’t have hesitated to bring in another long-snapper had Sundberg struggled, but he has been much more consistent this year. Comfort and a heavy workload this offseason have made the difference.

“Twenty games in the NFL [four preseason, 16 regular season] taught me more than anything,” the 6-foot, 250-pound Sundberg said. “More than the offseason or anything. I learned more in a season about myself as a snapper, about myself as a person, about my toughness level. . . and lots of things that I carry into this year.”

Sundberg also credits the extended offseason caused by the NFL lockout for his improved results.

“I spent the whole time in Phoenix, working with the guy that taught me how to long-snap and we went four to six days a week,” Sundberg said. “As we got closer to the season, we went five to seven days a week. We snapped a lot of footballs. I think the repetition and consistency of getting more reps changes everything. You feel more comfortable doing it.”

Although he is more comfortable with his teammates, coaches and techniques, Sundberg says he never felt complacent. Special teams coach Danny Smith did a good job of ensuring that he maintained the right mindset through camp, he says.

“I’m my own competition. Danny and I had a talk right when I got here and he pretty much told me that,” Sundberg said. “I appreciate him having that confidence in me to let me go out and do my job. And that confidence in me also boosted me to perform at a high level. So all the work, and Danny’s confidence in me have propelled me toward being a better snapper.”

By  |  10:43 AM ET, 08/31/2011

 
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