Steelers’ Kameron Canaday ready to fight for long-snapping job … again
Long snapper Kameron Canaday takes the struggles the Pittsburgh Steelers experienced in the kicking game last season personally.
He doesn’t have to.
It would be the easiest thing in the world to separate the parts of a field-goal attempt — snap, hold and kick — declare that he held up his end of the bargain just fine and sleep like a baby at night.
Canaday can’t think that way.
He views the Steelers’ specialists as a tight-knit group. When things go awry — like when kicker Chris Boswell missed a 42-yard field goal try in a 21-21 tie with Cleveland in Week 1 or when he missed two kicks, including a tying attempt at the buzzer, in a 24-21 loss at Oakland in Week 13 — Canaday isn’t quick to assign blame.
It’s a three-man effort — along with punter Jordan Berry, the holder — when the kick splits the uprights, and it’s a three-man effort when it doesn’t.
“Jordan and Bos and I, we’ve had our ups and downs,” Canaday said. “When somebody’s struggling, (we) try to stay as positive as possible. Stick with them because those are my guys, and I would expect nothing less from them.
“That goes for anybody on the team, defense, offense. We’re all part of a team here. I want to win. No matter what, that’s the ultimate goal.”
Canaday has another goal as well, and it’s one most long snappers share. He’d like to establish himself as the Steelers’ long-term, go-to guy at the position. Maybe get himself a contract that runs longer than one year, settle into his role and hold it down for a decade or so like Greg Warren did before him.
“Yeah, that would be great,” Canaday said. “But (special teams coach Danny Smith) always says, ‘The dream comes free. The work and all that stuff is sold separately.’ It’s easy to say, ‘What if I snapped the ball perfectly every time and nobody worried about it, and I could play as long as I want?’ That’s a dream. All the other stuff that comes with that dream is what’s sold separately.”
Considering the road Canaday took to secure his position with the Steelers in the first place, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against him.
Undrafted out of Portland State, he won a training camp battle in 2016 to start the season as Arizona’s long snapper. In Week 1, his low snap led to a missed field goal in a 23-21 loss to New England. In Week 3, his high snap led to a Buffalo touchdown in a 33-18 loss.
He was unceremoniously cut days later.
When Canaday signed with the Steelers in 2017, it would have been easy to view him as nothing more than training-camp fodder. The team had just used a sixth-round draft pick on long snapper Colin Holba out of Louisville. No way Canaday could win the job, given those circumstances.
But he bucked the odds, handled the pressure and improbably claimed the job he holds to this day.
“Pressure is going overseas and fighting. We’re playing football,” Canaday said. “If you keep that in mind, it’s easier to have more fun, especially when you play a couple years, and you have that mindset of playing as a team. It’s not about you. It’s about the team.”
Now, as Canaday prepares to begin his third season with the Steelers, the team includes on its training-camp roster Trevor Wood, a tight end with some long-snapping experience.
Canaday’s credentials at the position are superior because Wood is more of a tight end than a specialist, but he’s preparing for camp like he’s in a fight for job anyway.
“If you’re somebody who’s going to look back and say, ‘Oh, I beat this guy out,’ you’re not going to last long,” Canaday said. “I just have to take it one game at a time and move forward, never looking back. That’s how this profession works out.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .