For Jennings, the most important part of snapping is the grip. He uses what he calls the ‘‘Nerf Turbo’’ — essentially, the same style he used to make one of those foam footballs do a spiral. It allows him to get impressive speed on his snaps, giving the punter or kicker an extra split-second to beat the rush.
Cox doesn’t snap the ball nearly as hard as Jennings. The Ravens specialist focuses on consistency and accuracy, taking a meticulous approach to make sure he hikes the ball the same way every time.
On field goals and extra points, he always puts his heels on the same part of the hash mark. Then, he attempts to rotate the ball the same number of times so the holder — punter Sam Koch — can place it down in one motion with the laces facing away. If Koch has to spin the ball before placing it on the turf, it can throw off the timing just a bit.
As for those who don’t look at snappers as real players, consider this: In Cox rookie’s season, he tore up a knee but still finished the game, snapping the ball six more times in excruciating pain.
‘‘As funny as it sounds, that was a really great experience for me,’’ Cox said. ‘‘To come out of it having all the support from my teammates, to hear them say, ‘Wow, that was awesome what you did.'’’
Yep, these guys are real players.
And real important, too.
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