Feature articles on the Jake Ingram – Nathan Hodel battle to be the long-snapper for the Patriots

BG = Boston Globe
EN = Enterprise News

About how he doesn’t want to be noticed in preseason games, Jake Ingram said:
“I’ve just got to have one good snap after one good snap and do what I can to contribute.” (BG)

About New England’s long-time long snapper Lonie Paxton (who left via free agency this offseason), Ingram said:
“He’s a great long snapper. I’ve looked up to him.’’ (BG)

About his approach to long-snapping, Ingram said:
“Consistency. That’s it. I’ve just got to limit my mistakes and be consistent.’’ (BG)

BG Note: “The tale of the tape between Ingram and Hodel comes out even. The Patriots could go with the much more experienced Hodel, who has flicked every long snap for the Cardinals since 2002 and didn’t botch one of them. Or they could try to mold a Paxton-type long snapper of the future in Ingram, on whom they used a sixth-round pick in April.

It’s an either/or situation for Ingram and Hodel, and they know it. No team in the NFL carries two long snappers, and some teams have potentially dangerous backup plans. The Steelers employed Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison as a long snapper one time last year when Greg Warren tore his ACL. Harrison’s snap, predictably, flew over punter Mitch Berger’s hands.”

About how Hodel has been his mentor despite how they are competing for the same job, Ingram said:
“He’s helped with the mental side of the game, helped me get comfortable. We were both brought into compete and we know that.’’ (BG)

BG Note: “But there’s a limit to how much he can help, and that’s why choosing between the two is so hard. Ingram says there’s not much intangible about it – the first time you hear either snapper’s name in a preseason game, it might be the last.”

About how Hodel cannot help him with everything, Ingram said:
“There’s not a whole lot else he can help with. We’ve just got to make snaps.’’ (BG)

EN Note: “Perfection is nearly impossible to achieve, but when it comes to long-snapping, it’s practically a necessity. Yet through his eight-year NFL career, Nathan Hodel hasn’t botched a snap in six of those years.”

About how he never uses the same preparation routine for his long snapping, Nathan Hodel said:
“It can get cumbersome if you have all those minute things you have to get done before you can go out and be successful. Ultimately, they don’t have anything to do with it. So I just grab a couple snaps, go watch the game, and when called upon, you go out and do your job.” (EN)

EN Note: “Only one will make the team, and with 112 consecutive games under his belt, Hodel certainly had the upper hand before even one football was snapped in camp. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said last week that “the competition between Jake and Nate is good,” and the pressure doesn’t seem to be getting to either. Hodel jokingly harassed Ingram during an interview after practice, while Ingram said that Hodel has been right there to offer a helping hand, even with job security on the line.”

About things that Hodel has helped him with, Ingram said:
“He helps me out a lot, as far as game situations, how to mentally get myself ready. I’m a rookie, and have got a lot to learn, so it’s kind of nice to teach me some of those things even though we’re competing.” (EN)

About why he has been helping Ingram, Hodel said:
“You want to have your pride and dignity when you leave the game. And I don’t want to get a job just because you’re being rude to someone else or trying to pull the wool over their eyes.” (EN)

EN Note: “Hodel has been in these situations before through training camp in Arizona, although he’s always come out on top. Since making his NFL debut on Sept. 8, 2002, he didn’t miss a single Cardinals contest, highlighted by Hodel snapping on kicker Neil Rackers’ NFL-record 40 field goals in 2005, and in Arizona’s Super Bowl appearance against the Steelers seven months ago.”

About how he’s played so long in the NFL because he’s been able to overcome his injuries through mental toughness, Hodel said:
“I’ve had ankles, knees and shoulders. But at the end of the day, if you wrap your head around it, you can get anything done.” (EN)

About how he likes the Boston area more than Arizona, Hodel said:
“It’s just to a little more humidity than I’m used to out in Arizona. (But) I like the seasons, so this is better. You see Christmas tree lights on a cactus, and it just doesn’t do it for you.” (EN)

EN Note: “Like Hodel, who was a walk-on at Illinois, Ingram followed largely the same path. As a walk-on defensive end at Hawaii (Ingram grew up down the road in Mililani on Oahu), he was simply messing around with long-snapping in practice before he caught coach June Jones’ eye. Jones deemed his freshman too valuable to see limited action on defense, so he quickly made him the full-time long-snapper.”

About JJ turning him into a long-snapper only, Ingram said:
“When (Jones) said all I was going to do was long-snap, it hit me a little bit. But after a while, I kind of got used to it. I took it in stride and made it my own.” (EN)

About how his brother Luke (who is taking over the long-snapper role for UH) hasn’t asked him for much advice, Ingram said:
“He’s been long-snapping since Pop Warner. He’s got his own thing, and he does it well, so I don’t want to mess with what he does.” (EN)

About how he doesn’t feel pressure while long-snapping in games, Ingram said:
“You go through game situations in practice, so when I get in the game, you do this every day. I enjoy the success of my teammates when I complete the job. But as far as being in the situation, I’m more concentrated on doing my job.” (EN)

About how his experience in the NFL has resulted in him not feeling any pressure, Hodel said:
“Early in my career, you feel it a little bit, but as you go on, it becomes second-nature.” (EN)

About getting comfortable with both long snappers, kicker Stephen Gostkowski said:
“It’s still an ongoing process.I’m getting more comfortable with them every day, and they feel like they’re getting more comfortable. You can never have too much work or practice with them.” (EN)

About how he’s excited to finally get to play in the preseason, Ingram said:
“As a rookie, this has kinda been the longest offseason. Thursday will finally be time to go out there and shine, and do what you’ve been working for the past 15 years.” (EN)

Hoping that both of them do well in the preseason, Hodel said:
“Hopefully we go out and do well. And one of us will get the job here, and the other will get a job somewhere else.” (EN)




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