In his dual role as punter and holder for field goal and point-after attempts for the Kansas City Chiefs, Dustin Colquitt this year will be working with a new long snapper for the first time in more than six seasons. The Chiefs allowed their long-time snapper, Thomas Gafford, to depart as a free agent and he joined the Chicago Bears.
Colquitt, entering his 11th season with the Chiefs, sounded more like a coach than a player recently when he discussed his role in breaking in the new snapper.
"Just getting acclimated, trying to figure out what the guy does when he's in game situations, try to look back at his college film and try to figure out when it's wet, windy, where are his tendencies when he errors," Colquitt said. "And then just acclimate him to where I'm expecting the ball as a holder.
"Basically, it's just working with him and trying to find his tendencies, and for me, I'm a taller guy, so I don't like bending over and catching punt snaps."
The Chiefs, after already releasing a couple of snapper candidates in the last couple of months, have two remaining on their roster. Neither has snapped in an NFL game. James Winchester went to training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles two years ago. Andrew East, an undrafted rookie, snapped for four seasons at Vanderbilt.
The Chiefs blamed Gafford for bad snaps that led to missed field goal attempts by kicker Cairo Santos last season in a December game against the Oakland Raiders. Since then, finding a new snapper has been a priority.
It's an important issue for the Chiefs because they've been solid on special teams and particularly with their punting and kicking. Colquitt has long been one of the NFL's top punters. He's particularly effective placing his punts inside the 20.
Santos, the rough game against the Raiders aside, overcame a lousy start to his rookie season in 2014 to make 23 of his last 26 field goal attempts.
"If you have a guy that can keep it within a tight space most of the time, it makes my job easier, it makes Cairo's job easier," Colquitt said. "That's the most important thing I look at is accuracy, and if he moves his feet. I'm not expecting him to make any tackles or anything. Obviously it's icing on the cake if he does, but his deal is to keep me clean, keep the ball high where I like it, and obviously, we'll be good to go."