It took all of one play for the Oakland Raiders — not to mention a national television audience — to understand the importance of a long snapper.
But if the message wasn’t received loud and clear after the first catastrophe Monday night, the next two should have driven it home.
Oakland’s special teams were disastrous in the team’s loss to San Diego, unraveling after starting long snapper Jon Condo left the game with a concussion. His emergency replacement — linebacker Travis Goethel — botched two snaps and watched as his punter had a kick blocked on a third attempt.
“It’s a tough situation; I don’t wish that on my worst enemy,” said John Denney, who functions as the long snapper for the Dolphins. “It’s not a good position to be in, that’s for sure.”
Fortunately for Miami, Denney has been the picture of durability since entering the league in 2005. He hasn’t missed a game in his career.
But should Denney get injured, the Dolphins do have a backup plan or two. Both Jason Trusnik and Jeron Mastrud have worked on long snapping during practice, although it’s unclear which of the two would be called upon in a pinch.
“There’s no question … people don’t give enough credit to those guys that do that job,” coach Joe Philbin said. “It’s not an easy job, and sometimes we as coaches think that everything is automatic, but really there is no such thing as automatic or layups in the NFL.”
Cameron Wake made no excuses for his sack-less season debut, but he did give a reason: The Texans double-teamed him early and often.
Philbin estimated that Houston assigned two blockers to Wake on roughly one in three passing situations — a strategy the pass-rusher jokingly hoped to keep under wraps.
“Don’t tell nobody, don’t give no hints, don’t put it in the [newspaper headlines],” Wake said this week. “Just one-on-ones, all day.”
Even with the extra attention, Wake still hit Houston’s quarterback three times. Pro Football Focus gave him the 10th-highest grade of NFL defensive ends who played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps in Week 1.
And he’d be well-served to get used to the second set of hands. Without an established pass rusher at the other defensive end spot, Wake will see plenty of those double teams in the weeks to come.
“It’s certainly a weapon that teams use,” Philbin said. “One of the things you hope to do in game-planning is don’t let the difference-makers perform at a high level in a ballgame. Certain, he’s been a guy who’s shown an ability to change the game in a pass-rush standpoint.”
The Dolphins announced Thursday that they have complied with the league’s ticket-sales requirements, allowing Sunday’s game to be televised live. The Dolphins this year chose to take advantage of the league’s new blackout policy, which allows games be televised even if it falls short of a sellout. Roughly 51,000 of the 60,5000 non-premium seats must be sold for a Dolphins home game to get on the air.
ODDS AND ENDS
• Wide receiver Anthony Armstrong missed all of practice Thursday with a hamstring injury after participating on a limited basis the day before. Jonathan Freeny (thumb) and Randy Starks (groin) practiced without any limitations.
• Coaches video shows that on Marcus Thigpen’s punt return for a touchdown in Houston, Legedu Naanee flattened three Texans with one block.
• Matt Moore decided to cut his trademark California locks this week, and he didn’t go halfway. He let teammate Anthony Fasano give him a crew cut.
• Philbin on Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer: “I think he throws a great deep ball. Whether it’s a post, a seam down the middle, he’s got excellent accuracy and very good velocity.”
• Rawlings will produce 1,972 full-sized footballs to honor the 40th anniversary of the Dolphins’ perfect season. The footballs, which can be bought by calling 1-800-345-2868 or visiting www.nikcosports.com, cost $99 each, with the proceeds from the sale benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida.