Economos snaps up a vital duty

Long snapping is an overlooked, but important duty in the NFL. Now that the reliable Dave Moore has retired, a youngster who has never held down a consistent NFL job is the leading candidate to replace him.

The transfer of power from Chris Simms to Jeff Garcia at quarterback has certainly gotten its fair share of attention. But it's not the only important passing of the torch in Tampa Bay this season.

The retirement of Dave Moore has opened up room at a position most average fans play little attention to — long snapper. It is, however a vital role Moore fell into during his two-year departure to Buffalo in 2001-02.

By the time he returned to Tampa Bay in 2003, Moore became a little-used tight end, but a full-time long snapper, and one of the more reliable ones in the NFL. His play at the position in 2006 earned him a Pro Bowl berth, the first of his career. It was Moore who delivered the ball for punter Josh Bidwell's hold on Matt Bryant's 62-yard field goal last season.

Moore's retirement leaves a void, one that must be filled.

Tampa Bay believes it has identified Moore's replacement in Andrew Economos.

Economos (6-1, 250) first came to Tampa Bay as a practice squad signee on Sept. 13, 2006. The Georgia Tech product had just been released by Jacksonville after he lost his battle to become the Jaguars' long snapper.

Economos joined the active roster three days later as insurance for an injured Moore. He was activated to the active roster three days later. He played in three games for Tampa Bay before his own injury put him on injured reserve on Oct. 11.

Still, Economos had found a mentor in Moore.

"You can't take anything away from a guy like that (Moore)," Economos said during mini-camp. "He's so well-respected by everybody. I basically just adopted his attitude in practice and in the game. Each snapper has their own little way of doing things and you don't want to mess with that. But as far as how he approaches the game and his mental attitude, I learned a lot from him about getting prepared."

Economos didn't know if the job was his until early June, when Moore officially announced his retirement and slid into the color commentator role in the Bucs' radio booth. Economos prepared himself for both eventualities — Moore's return for a 16th season or his retirement.

Now that he's the guy — the Buccaneers have no one else on their roster with significant long-snapping experience — he sees training camp as his best chance yet to earn a regular NFL job.

"I feel real blessed," Economos said. "It's a great opportunity. I've been working for this the past two years in the league, and basically since I started playing football. I wanted my shot to play in the bigs and it's a beautiful opportunity and I can't wait to make the most of it."

And, unlike Moore, Economos is well experienced in the trade of long snapping. He's been doing it since the fourth grade.

I'm a two-handed guy," Economos said about his snapping technique. "You have to be. You have to get it back there fast enough."

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Included among his more than two dozen writing and editing awards are national awards from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors, and state awards from the Florida Press Club and the Florida Sports Writers Association, for his coverage of the Buccaneers since 2004.

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