Bears notice the long snapper when he's not there

Entering his 13th season as the long snapper for the Chicago Bears, Pat Mannelly has never gotten as much attention as he has since missing Saturday night’s preseason game, the result of a stinger suffered the week before.

It’s as any long snapper would want it to be. They never draw attention to themselves while doing their job on a weekly basis. But with Mannelly sidelined against the Oakland Raiders, it was plenty evident the team was in need of a long snapper.

General manager Jerry Angelo made the decision not to cut the 80th player on the roster and sign a replacement for the week. The Bears went with veteran tight end Desmond Clark, who had never snapped in a regular season or preseason game. He bounced three of his first four snaps and that led to the Bears going for it on fourth-and-seven – passing on a medium-range field goal. They also went for two instead of trying one extra point. Holder Brad Maynard had to fall on one snap and on another the ball came to kicker Robbie Gould, who threw it away as quickly as he could, resulting in an intentional grounding penalty.

Clark settled down and performed the rest of the game without an additional material for the NFL Network’s next incarnation of Football Follies. The risk the Bears ran was two-fold. Exposing Maynard and Gould to bad snaps put them in a position to be hit by defenders. Sure, the odds weren’t good, but the risk was there just the same. Second, practicing with a poor snapper and then playing with one could also throw off the timing of the punter and kicker.

The upside is that if Clark is needed during a regular-season game, he may be better prepared.

“In the first couple snaps I just had to trust my technique and not try to be perfect,” Clark said. “I was just trying to do everything absolutely perfect instead of just doing what I have been doing for the last six years. If I had to go in there, I would put money on myself that the job would get done.”

Said Maynard: “Certainly makes us appreciate Pat a lot more. Snapping is not easy. Dez does a great job for us in practice and we had confidence in him coming in. I haven’t lost confidence in him really if he had to get out there. It was his first time ever doing it. I think it’s a learning experience for him.”

The best news for the Bears is Mannelly is expected to return this week.

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