With opening day still more than two months away and the mandatory portion of the initial wave of offseason workouts over, we have entered the more quiet parts of the NFL offseason. However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop.
During workouts and studying sessions, players still have a chance to lay the foundation for their spots on the team. Over the course of the next few months, we will take a look at the men fighting for them on the 2017 New England Patriots. 53 of currently 90 players will be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.
Today, we will continue the series with one of the Patriots’ roster locks.
Name: Joe Cardona
Position: Long snapper
Jersey number: 49
Opening day age: 25
Size: 6’3, 245 lbs.
2016 review: Long snapper is one of the more unappreciative positions on an NFL roster. The player doing it is expected to stay perfect at all times, remains more or less anonymous but gets thrust into the spotlight in case he makes a mistake. Luckily for the Patriots, long snapper Joe Cardona only experienced the first two during his second season in the NFL.
After spending his offseason juggling his service duty with the Navy and his role on New England's roster, Cardona played yet another solid season. He appeared in all 16 regular season games as well as the Patriots' three playoff contests and finished with playing time percentages of 34.1% (153 of 449) and 30.1% (28 of 93), respectively. Cardona snapped the football on each one of his snaps.
Like he has been during his 2015 rookie season, Cardona was a highly accurate long snapper. Of his 181 snaps, none were fumbled and only five were noteworthy off target. Punter Ryan Allen, who also serves as the team's holder, was forced to slightly adjust his position on a mere 16 additional snaps (11.6%) headed his way.
As a result, place kicker Stephen Gostkowski and Allen had enough time to properly go through their motions and did not see any of their kicks blocked. And while Gostkowski missed a combined 10 field goals and extra point attempts (on a total of 97 tries), none were the result of a bad snap by Cardona.
2017 preview: As has been the case throughout the last two offseasons, Joe Cardona is once again working simultaneously for the Navy and the Patriots. If the past is any indication, though, his performance will not be negatively influenced by his double-duty. Consequently, Cardona will once again return as the unquestioned starter at the long snapper position.
As such, the 25-year old is projected to return as a consistent and productive member of New England's kicking operation. And as one of the better young long snappers in the NFL – and a potential candidate for a contract extension following the 2017 season –, his name will likely continue not to be mentioned for the wrong reasons.