Growing up in Georgia, Patrick Mannelly got some advice on making it to the NFL when he was in junior high school. Rod Dowhower, a family friend that just happened to be a coach for the Atlanta Falcons, told Mannelly learn how to long snap and he'll have a pro career.
As Mannelly enters his seventh year in the league he's found a niche as one of the best long snappers in the game. In fact, the six-foot-5, 265-pounder has a website dedicated to learning the intricacies of long snapping. Longsnapper.com offers instructional tips and includes an option to set up instructional sessions with Mannelly.
Mannelly has only missed three games since being selected by the Bears in the sixth-round of the 98 draft, which has allowed him to pull the trigger on 846 of Chicago's 866 long snap attempts during that span. His pinpoint accuracy played a part in the Bears going 180 games without having a punt blocked, a span of 920 attempts. The longest active streak was snapped in the 2003 season opener. After snapping the ball Mannelly also hunts down the opponent, amassing 46 special teams tackles in his career.
The Bears have more than one long snapper in camp, but at this point it's more about having bodies in camp than necessarily thinking someone will unseat Mannelly.
"My goal is to stay one of the top 32 long snappers and if you can do that then I think you'll have a job," Mannelly said.