Long snapper Colin Holba, drafted by Steelers, set for Heinz Field debut ... with Jaguars
More than a few Steelers fans raised their eyebrows when the team last spring invested a sixth-round pick ... in a long snapper?
Let's just say their consternation wasn't placated when that long snapper, Colin Holba, was waived at the end of training camp.
But now that the Steelers are prepping for their postseason opener, Holba indeed will be snapping at Heinz Field on Sunday during their divisional playoff game.
He'll just be doing it for the other team.
Holba was signed by Jacksonville in November after Matt Overton suffered a shoulder injury during the Jaguars' ninth game. Sunday will be Holba's ninth meaningful NFL game and his first against the team he spent summer workouts and training camp with.
“I'm not surprised he got a job,” said Kameron Canaday, who beat Holba for the Steelers' job. “I think Colin's a really good long snapper.”
Canaday, apparently, was better during preseason. Canaday emerged from the regular season without incident and in relative obscurity — and that's usually the best possible sign for a player at his position.
The Steelers' kicking game (punting and placekicking) thrived with Canaday playing his role. Kicker Chris Boswell established a Steelers season record for points with 142 while setting career highs in field goals made (35), field goal percentage (92.1) and long field goal (53).
Canaday was the snapper when Boswell hit the winning field goal in the final minute four times in a five-game span in the second half of the season.
Punter Jordan Berry also was not affected by a poor snap at any point during the season.
In all, Canaday proved a worthy replacement for longtime Steelers long snapper Greg Warren, who held the gig since 2005.
As special teams coach Danny Smith put it, the Steelers got their next long snapper in the draft — even if it was indirectly and not Holba himself. It was through a competition between Holba and Canaday.
Now, Canaday gets to make his playoff debut, too.
“Same deal. Nothing changes on our end,” Canaday said of the specialists in the playoffs. “It's still a football game. We're just playing in January and, hopefully, into February. Just taking it one game at a time.