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Albright's Critical Job Is a (Long) Snap

The position is so anonymous in the whole scheme of things, yet so critical to the fate of a football squad. So goes it for a long-snapper in the NFL, and the Redskins have a darn good one at that: Ethan Albright.

In 2007, Albright begins his 14th season in the league and seventh in Washington. He hasn't missed a game since the start of the 1995 season while becoming reputed as one of the best and most consistent long snappers in the NFL.

His pinpoint snaps on extra points, field goals and punts have made life easier for Redskin holders, place kickers and punters in recent years.

Albright is not bothered that his performance comes into question only when there's a bad snap, a blocked kick or a missed block on the line. He takes it all in stride.

"You know what, I'm living a dream playing in the NFL," he said. "I'm 35 and still going strong. I've got plenty of years left in me. My position is fine. I can handle that.

"To some extent I guess my job is black and white, either I got the job done or I didn't. There's no gray area. If you get the kick executed, I've done my job. I can handle that fine, I'm used to it."

Center Casey Rabach flashed a look of amazement when asked about Albright's value to the Redskins.

"Nobody understands how much we appreciate Ethan as a whole," Rabach said. "The guy is money each and every play. The guy is automatic, and I'm glad we have him on our team, for sure.

"He's got the mentality of an offensive lineman but doesn't get the credit when things go well. If we have a good running game, the offensive line gets credit. If we have a big day punting, he never gets the credit for it. He's kind of the faceless guy out there. We're lucky to have him, we really are."

The 6-5, 265-pound Albright, who praised Derrick Frost as a great holder on placekicks, said the key to being a consistent long snapper is like so many other things--repetition.

"It's like shooting a free throw or swinging a golf club," he said. "If you do it enough...there's a thousand different ways to do it, but do whatever's comfortable when you release it so you pretty much know where the ball's going.

"Don't have a fireball one time and a slow ball the next time. Be consistent with the speed and location, and things seem to go pretty smooth."

A North Carolina native, Albright began learning the technique of long-snapping in his youth.

"I was the only kid that could snap in pee wee, the midgets, in junior high school, high school, college," he said. "I did it everywhere."

He earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors at North Carolina before signing with Miami as an undrafted free agent in 1994.

He saw limited action with the Dolphins in his first two years and was waived. But he signed with the Bills in training camp before the 1996 season and was immediately tapped as their long-snapper on all kicks. His career took off.

He played in all 16 games in each of the next five seasons and earned recognition as one of the league's most talented players at his position.

The Redskins signed Albright as a free agent in March 2001 to shore up one of the team's lingering problems, inconsistency with long snaps, and he hasn't missed a down since.

"I learned the hard way not to get hurt because you get replaced quickly," he said. "So I've been able to be out there doing what I'm doing. I've been fortunate with my health.

"I appreciate being here. I feel like I'm one of the better guys in the league at what I do. I watch film with other guys. I study what I'm doing just like everybody else. I'm not banging heads like everybody else, but I don't have any complaints about my job."

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