Commanders playing a dangerous game with snapping issues

It’s not often that a team selects a long snapper in the NFL draft. It’s even more rare when a team trades up for a long snapper. That’s precisely what the Washington Commanders did in the 2021 NFL draft.

Washington, which didn’t have a long snapper on the roster, traded two draft selections to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2021 sixth-round pick. That’s where they selected Cheeseman, who played collegiately at Michigan.

Cheeseman had big shoes to fill in Washington, replacing Nick Sundberg, the team’s long snapper for the previous 11 seasons.

For the first two seasons of his NFL career, things went smoothly for Cheeseman. He appeared to replace Sundberg with no issues and quickly bonded with punter Tress Way.

However, over the summer, Cheeseman appeared to have some issues with his snaps. That lasted through the preseason, with Way and head coach Ron Rivera noting that Cheeseman was trying different grips, and there was no cause for concern.

In Washington’s Week 1 win over the Arizona Cardinals, Cheeseman’s issues popped up again. Cheeseman had an errant snap on a Joey Slye field-goal attempt. Fortunately, Way did an outstanding job of getting the snap down, and Slye made the field goal.

The long snapper is probably the most anonymous player on every NFL team. And for the good ones, you want it to stay that way. Only the hardcore fans likely even know the name of their long snapper.

Cheeseman has been popular among Washington fans for his name. However, his recent struggles have put him under the microscope.

After Wednesday’s practice, Rivera was asked about Cheeseman’s recent issues. He acknowledged it’s a concern.

“Well, it is a concern more than anything else,” Rivera said. “And so we’ll just continue to have Camaron snap, and until, unfortunately, something happens, then we’ll decide from there. But right now, we’re handling it; we’re putting the ball through the upright, which is most important. And I believe it’s just something that he’s working out.”

Rivera is waiting for something to happen before he decides? That’s interesting phrasing for a head coach who knows he needs to win. The margin of error in every NFL game is small. Every snap matters. One more errant snap could cause the Commanders a game.

You can understand Rivera’s reasoning to an extent. The Commanders haven’t lost a game because of it. But, at the very least, shouldn’t you consider bringing some long snappers in during the week to have ready in case Cheeseman has more issues?

Cheeseman has done something no long snapper ever wants to do: He’s put himself under the microscope on every snap. And until he can go a few weeks with no issues, his snaps will remain a concern.

Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire