2016 NFL Season

Justin Drescher dealing with calf strain amid competition at long snapper

15595884-mmmainBy Josh Katzenstein, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
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on August 14, 2016 at 1:15 PM, updated August 14, 2016 at 2:22 PM

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — The New Orleans Saints have already had three players work at long snapper in training camp, so it’s fair to say there’s a legitimate competition at the position.

Veteran Justin Drescher remains the favorite considering he’s had the job since the middle of the 2010 seasons, but second-year long snapper Chris Highland and rookie tight end Garrett Griffin have had chances to snap, too.

And with Griffin sitting out the past couple weeks with a hamstring injury and Drescher missing Thursday’s preseason game in New England and practice Saturday and Sunday, Highland is getting all the duties right now.

“Justin had a strained calf, so we were kind of cautious,” coach Sean Payton said. “He was able to go, but we’re just being smart with making sure, all of a sudden, it didn’t become more significant.”

The Saints didn’t have any additions to their injury list Sunday. Cornerbacks Damian Swann and Keenan Lewis, linebacker Stephone Anthony, defensive tackle John Jenkins, fullback Austin Johnson, safety Jamal Golden, Drescher and Griffin were all out. Running back C.J. Spiller returned after being a spectator Saturday.

Until Griffin returns, the competition will be between Drescher and Highland for snapping duties.

“(We’re looking for) that consistency and that ability to give you that same snap each time from a punt to a field goal,” Payton said.

But Griffin, who went undrafted out of Air Force this year, could offer unique benefits as a tight end considering most, if not all, NFL teams have a specialized long snapper on the roster.

“There’d be a lot of value,” Payton said. “Every team will have a backup plan that currently exists on the defense or offense, but it would be the exception if your long snapper was someone also playing another position. And that would provide a lot of value. It’s hard to find, but yes.”

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