Tanner Purdum readily admits that “When you don’t hear my name, it’s a good day.” That is the fate of top-shelf long snappers such as Purdum and, before him on the Jets, James Dearth.
It was also a good week for the Jets’ specialists and coaches because they didn’t hear Purdum’s name on the team’s injury report, as they did the week before and two weeks earlier in the season. Purdum didn’t say he was close to not being able to snap any of those weeks, but all three weeks his low back issue was not a triviality for the Green & White.
“They do a great job in the training room, putting in, it’s got to be 80 man-hours on me in my three days in there,” Purdum calculated. “They do a good job of getting you right, and Coach Westhoff and Ben [Kotwica], they’re both good enough to realize, ‘Get through the practice because we need you but we won’t kill you with reps.’ Even this week they tell me, ‘Take it easy. You might feel 100 percent but we don’t want it to relapse.’ “
Purdum’s injury is probably a common condition in the snappers’ upside-down world.
“It’s one of those things where you just get tight hips at my position, being bent over all the time,” he analyzed. “Most of my power is in the nips. Once those get too tight, your back flares up and slips out or, in my case, spasms. It just happens. This time I happened to be lifting. Last time it was at practice.”
Sounds like a job for your friendly chiropractor. And Tanner’s one of those people you’ll meet occasionally who recommends chiropractic for what ails you, because it’s helped what ails him over the years. In fact, his father-in-law is award-winning Dr. Mark Pick out of Dodge City, Kans., who has worked with the Chiefs and at the NFL combine.
“I’m pretty picky” when it comes to chiropractors, said Purdum, no pun intended. “He does a very, very good job, and when I’m in that area I always go to him. But here these guys step up and do the job right too. They know what they have to do to have me fixed before the game.”
Dr. Pick also has treated bull riders over the years, which prompted me to ask Tanner if he’s ever gotten on a bull back in his multifaceted Midwestern upbringing.
“I saddle-broke horses in high school and college,” he said. “He had bucking stock for a long time and I think he just sold them off this year. I’ve helped him with them a little when I was out there. I’ve gotten on a bull once or twice, and it’s not exactly the best time of your life. I lasted about three seconds, which is better than most, I guess.”
But he’s never survived an eight-second eternity, ridden a bull to the bell?
“Noooo,” he said. “That’s like putting an entire offensive line into one and then trying to ride their back.”
Doesn’t sound like an exciting prospect. But then again, who’s to say with a long snapper? His highlights often go unnoticed as he snaps one ball after another unerringly into the hands of holder Mark Brunell for a Nick Folk placement or into the hands of punter T.J. Conley.
But Purdum did enjoy this past Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, which was his only other NFL employer, a team that worked him through the 2009 preseason and then waived him, ultimately so he could sign with the Jets before last season.
“They cut me, fine,” he said without bitterness. “I wound up in a better place. I’m much happier here than I was there, so they did me a favor.”
This Sunday Purdum can do the Jets a major favor by keeping the ropes coming to give the Jets their best chance against dangerous Eagles punt returner DeSean Jackson (whose average nevertheless has slipped from 15.2 yards in 2009 to 11.6 last year to 6.7 so far this season).
“The Eagles come over the middle, mostly, a seven-man front,” he described Philadelphia’s punt block approach. “They like to rush the center, or at least to come across me to the guard. They like to stuff us up front so Jackson can get something going in the back. You’ve got a good returner, that’s what you want to do. You want to create a pile, a big cloud of dust up front so he has some room to run.”
It’ll be up to Purdum and his linemates to defeat the cloud of dust and get downfield quickly to keep Jackson at bay. And with his back back to some semblance of normal, it sounds just like the kind of ride he likes.
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Ben Kotwica, Desean Jackson, Dr. Mark Pick, Mark Brunell, Mike Westhoff, Philadelphia Eagles, T.J. Conley, Tanner Purdum
Posted in Randy Lange | 35 Comments »