Paxton's absence sparks Kinchen thoughts

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With Broncos long snapper Lonie Paxton not traveling for tonight's playoff game against the Patriots, it shines a spotlight on an often overlooked position.

From a Patriots perspective, it also sparks memories of the 2003 season.

In mid-December that year, the Patriots lost Paxton to a season-ending knee injury. They brought in Sean McDermott for one game before placing him on season-ending injured reserve. That led Bill Belichick to call up his former long snapper from the Cleveland Browns, Brian Kinchen, who had been retired and working as a seventh-grade teacher.

It was Kinchen who delivered the snap on Adam Vinatieri's 41-yard field goal to defeat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. As was learned later, Kinchen cut his hand with a steak knife before the game, a result of nerves, and was unsure if he could snap effectively.

The Baltimore Sun wrote about Kinchen in a "Where are they Now" Ravens-based series back in 2007 (link here).

As for tonight, the Broncos signed veteran David Binn, the longtime San Diego Charger who turns 40 next month and hasn't snapped this season. Binn hasn't snapped much over the last two years (he landed on injured reserve in the 2010 season opener), so this will be an area to watch tonight.

It's a tough spot for Binn and the Broncos, much like it was for the Patriots in 2003.