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Coco, For Now, Is Last Man Standing at Long Snapper

The Green Bay Packers released incumbent snapper Steven Wirtel on Wednesday, but Jack Coco understands the job has not been won.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Jack Coco has conquered a couple challenges in his quest to solve the Green Bay Packers’ long-standing issues at long snapper.

A walk-on at Georgia Tech, Coco snapped only for field goals and extra points during his first three seasons. As a senior last year, he was put on scholarship and focused only on tight end.

Coco’s pro day film caught the eye of Packers special teams assistant Byron Storer, who made Coco jump through some hoops just to get a tryout invitation at the postdraft rookie camp. Coco got that invitation, then won a spot on the 90-man roster. Now, with the release of incumbent Steven Wirtel on Wednesday, Coco will be the team’s one and only snapper for Friday night’s preseason game at the San Francisco 49ers.

“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better and made improvements every single day, getting 1 percent better every single day,” Coco said on Wednesday. “It’s a lot of credit to Byron and Rich (Bisaccia) because they have allowed me to come in here as a little bit of a raw guy and developed me throughout OTAs and training camp. I just take everything one snap at a time.”

Having won his battle with Wirtel is a guarantee of nothing. After all, the Packers worked out a couple snappers on Tuesday, and there’s a chance a quality snapper will be made available after teams cut their rosters on Aug. 30. But it’s a big step in making the 53-man roster.

To be the snapper at Minnesota on Sept. 11, Coco is going to have to continue to improve. His punt snaps sometimes lack zip. He’s mostly been on the money on field goals, though he was a bit off-target a couple times on punts on Tuesday.

It’s the punt snaps where he’s a work in progress. While he practiced that skill at Georgia Tech, another snapper handled those duties. Assuming the Packers punt at the 49ers on Friday night, it will be his first punt snaps in a game since high school.

“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better,” he said. “A lot more consistent, protections have been really good, all the footwork drills I do every day with Byron and Rich are absolutely paying dividends. I feel really, really good and am excited for the opportunity.”

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Snapping against the 49ers – the team that bulldozed Wirtel backward in the playoff game for the fateful blocked punt – will be the next challenge for Coco. He’s been playing football since he was 8, so will try to treat this as just another game.

“Maybe the environment changes and the uniform changes, the stadium changes, the players you’re around change but, at the same time, it’s the same game played throughout your entire life,” he said. “That’s the exciting part. It’s the game that I love and it’s an absolutely unbelievable opportunity to be here.”

The Packers worked out two snappers on Tuesday: Antonio Ortiz and Mitchell Fraboni. A rookie, Ortiz snapped for four seasons at TCU and spent the offseason with the Bears. Fraboni was a three-year snapper at Arizona State. An undrafted free agent in 2018, he has not snapped in an NFL game but did play for the USFL’s Pittsburgh Maulers.

Perhaps the best available veteran snapper is 32-year-old Carson Tinker, who has played in 78 games since entering the NFL in 2013. He snapped for the Jaguars from 2013 through 2018 and played in one game for Bisaccia’s Raiders last season.

Tucker Addington, who snapped for the USFL’s Houston Gamblers and was considered perhaps the best snapper in that league, also could be an option. He was one of nine snappers to work out for Denver over the past handful of days.

Arguably the best snapper in this year’s draft class was Pittsburgh’s Cal Adomitis. He is battling longtime Bengals snapper Clark Harris, a seventh-round pick as a tight end by the Packers in 2007, so at least one good snapper will become available after Cincinnati picks its roster.

The Bengals are one of only three teams with two snappers, so the free agents who are available today might wind up being the best option.

“You’re always competing with someone,” Coco said. “No matter what, no matter where you are, I know that there’s always competition. People are always looking for someone to replace you. So, I’m always competing with everybody else, no matter who it is. I’ve just got to be the best version of myself and control what I can control.”