Every offseason the Pittsburgh Steelers bring in a long snapper to challenge veteran Greg Warren for his job and when the dust clears Warren disposes of them easily in training camp. Will this offseason be any different?
Of the 15 undrafted free agents that the Steelers signed following the 2013 NFL draft this past weekend, one of them was Luke Ingram, a 6\'\'5", 258 pound long snapper out of Hawaii. So what makes Ingram so good and what makes Warren vulnerable to competition this offseason as opposed to any other offseason?
As far as Warren goes, it is not often that you hear his name during the season, but last year he was part of two special teams gaffs that didn\'t go unnoticed. The first one happened in the game against the Tennessee Titans when a miscommunication between Warren and former Steelers safety Ryan Mundy led to a blocked Drew Butler punt deep in the Steelers own end. The second miscue was even more costlier as a bad snap from Warren in the crucial Week 16 game against the Cincinnati Bengals led to a missed 24-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham.
As far as Ingram goes, his resume is as impressive as his size. He finished his college career having played and started all 52 games at long snapper. He snapped every PAT, field goal and punt attempt in those games and did not have one bad snap that led to a blocked kick or mishandled placement. In 2012 he was named Hawaii\'s special teams player of the year for a second time and even played in the Senior Bowl.
It appears that long snapping runs in the Ingram family as well, as Luke\'s older brother Jake Ingram was drafted by the New England Patriots in the sixth-round of the 2009 draft out of Hawaii. Jake spent a season and a half with the Patriots before getting released in 2010 and played one more game with the New Orleans Saints after that.
At the NFL combine back in February, Luke reportedly ran a 5.05 forty and did 24 reps on the bench. During his four years at Hawaii he recorded 4.5 special teams tackles.
Make no mistake, Warren, despite his miscues last season will still be tough to overthrow and Ingram can\'t afford any mistakes in training camp. The Steelers, however, hired Danny Smith to be their new special teams coach during the offseason and he will have no loyalties to Warren, who will be entering his ninth season in the league.
As far as cap savings go, the Steelers won\'t gain much in the form of cap relief by keeping Ingram over Warren. The one-year, $905,000 qualifying contract that Warren signed comes with a reduced cap hit of $620,000. The contract signed by Ingram has a cap hit of a little more than $405,000.
Below is an interview with Ingram that took place prior to the draft. I\'ll admit that it really doesn\'t add any value to this post, but after all, how many times during a year do I get to dedicate post to the long snapping position?
So do you think Warren is in jeopardy of losing his job this offseason? Is this actually a training camp battle that we should keep our eyes on?