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Long Snapper Rick Lovato Develops Quick Chemistry With Special Teams Unit


After being signed on Saturday with the sudden injury to Nick Sundberg, long snapper Rick Lovato gelled quickly with punter/holder Tress Way and kicker Dustin Hopkins in the Redskins' victory over the Packers.

In football, sometimes the best efforts go unnoticed.

Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' defense and special teams in their 2016 Week 10 matchup against the Green Bay Packers Nov. 20, 2016, at FedExField.

For long snappers, they sometimes want to go unnoticed. Whenever they do, it often means they're doing their job just right.

The Redskins have had consistency at the long snapper position for several years. Seven-year veteran Nick Sunberg has held the fort down since arriving in 2010, besides missing most of the 2012 season with a broken arm.

So when the California product tweaked his back in the weight room last week, the Redskins had to act fast, in case Sundberg couldn't suit up on Sunday against Green Bay.

On Friday, the Redskins flew in former Packers long snapper Rick Lovato for a workout. On Saturday, they signed the second-year player. On Sunday, he was facing his former team in primetime on Sunday Night Football.

"I was actually working at my dad's sub shop when I got the call on Thursday afternoon to fly back that night here to Washington," Lovato said. "Everything was fast paced, everything was crazy, but it was a game I felt comfortable with. I played at this field, I knew this team, and I just felt good. Honestly, I didn't feel an ounce of nervousness this whole game. I felt good being out there and helping this team win, and that's what we got out of it: a win."

During that workout, though, Lovato was on pins and needles.

"I think I was more tense when I was working out, because everything was happening so fast," Lovato said. "I had just got there, needed to work out and 24 hours later finding out that I'm signing and playing on Sunday. So that was definitely a more nerve-racking thing than tonight's game, which is kind of surprising. Sunday Night Football, you think people would be a little bit nervous for this."

The special teams unit of Sundberg, punter Tress Way, and kicker Dustin Hopkins has been tight knit all season – they have great chemistry and have worked together since Hopkins was signed during Week 2 of the 2015 season.

Despite a sudden change at long snapper, there wasn't a drop-off in chemistry with Lovato snapping the ball.

"For special [teams], it takes time to build chemistry," Lovato said. "But [Tress Way and Dustin Hopkins] were so welcoming, so comfortable with me as soon as I got there, encouraging me on my snapping, and told me to keep doing a good job. I just wanted to go out there and make their job as easy as possible, which is the job of the long snapper: make the punter and kicker's job as easy as possible.

"I felt like we did a good job tonight, I know we only had one day of work together, but it's great that we had decent chemistry on the field and got the win," Lovato continued.

Perhaps the reason the Redskins chose Lovato to replace Sundberg is because the veteran has known Lovato since his college days. He even gave him a thumbs up coming out of Old Dominion.

"He actually evaluated me at one of my camps at a long snapping combine," Lovato said. "They had me as the best guy coming out my senior year. He evaluates well, he's a great long snapper, he knows what he's doing, and He's been in the league for seven years, so it's great to have a mentor like that."

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