Washington Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg spent his offseason as he typically does, competing against high schoolers to avoid push-ups and getting a little work done on his huge back tattoo. He trained five days a week in Phoenix with the same specialty coach he’s employed since high school, and his teammates took quick notice of his diligence.
Place kicker “Graham [Gano] complimented me the first day of training camp. ‘Holy mackerel, you’re snapping the crap out of the ball. That stuff is flying,’ ” Sundberg said, recalling Gano’s comment. “When somebody who hasn’t seen me in a while sees me snap and is like, ‘Whoa, you’ve been working.’ Well, yeah, I have been working. I want to get better every year. I don’t want to stay the same.
“I want to be on this team for a long time. Right now, we’re working on preseason game one, year three.”
For the second straight year, Sundberg entered training camp on the short list of Redskins players who are not involved in a position battle. It’s a reassuring feeling, Sundberg said, but not so much that he can take his job for granted.
After the conclusion of last season, Sundberg flew to Phoenix, his home town, on Jan. 9 and began his offseason program the following day. He and roughly 25 other long snappers — everyone from high schoolers to pros — worked with Ben Bernard, who runs Arizona Elite Longsnapping. Bernard has been Sundberg’s private coach since he attended North Canyon High.
Depending on the day, Sundberg snapped the ball 75 to 250 times. To add a competitive element to the work, Bernard would line up five snappers in front of five punters and have them all snap at the same time. The goal is for the snapper to get the ball to his respective punter first, but snappers were penalized 50 push-ups if the ball didn’t arrive at the punter’s hip. The slowest snapper also was charged 50 push-ups.
When asked how frequently he had to do push-ups, Sundberg replied: “Not often.”
“When I go home, I really work on velocity,” Sundberg said. “I work on throwing the ball faster than anybody, and that’s my mind-set going in. I want to be the fastest snapper in the NFL. But I also want to be the most accurate. Sometimes those two don’t go hand-in-hand, but I want them to with me.”