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Man-On-Man To Become Cardinals' Long Snapper

Undrafted rookies Canaday and Dillon competing to fill Leach vacancy


Long snapper Kameron Canaday (86) works on his technique as fellow long snapper Daniel Dillon (48) looks on during the recent rookie minicamp.

When the Cardinals rookies eat meals at the team facility, Kameron Canaday and Daniel Dillon sit together, and when they head back to the team hotel, the two are roommates.

They have become friends, but their days as teammates have a shelf life.

Canaday and Dillon were the picks to try and replace retired long snapper Mike Leach in a job oft-forgotten unless something goes

wrong. The pitch from special teams coordinator Amos Jones to both when they signed as undrafted free agents was simple: You both will room together and learn to like each other during a competition that will eventually eliminate one of you.

Both have accepted it.

"It's like coach Jones says, he's not going to beat me out and I'm not going to beat him out," Canaday said. "I'm going to beat myself out or he will beat himself out. It's just great to be in the NFL, sitting here able to compete."

Added Dillon, "It was strange at first, but it's part of the whole process."

It isn't often the Cardinals have had to look for a long snapper. The team has employed only three since 1996: Trey Junkin (1996-2001), Nathan Hodel (2002-2008) and Leach. When Leach called it a career after the season, Jones had work to do.

Despite all the scouting teams do, General Manager Steve Keim acknowledged special teams is usually left to the special teams coaches who have a better sense of that world.

Jones' plan was simple. Knowing the position would come down to undrafted candidates, he wanted to identify three snappers in the

scouting process. The Cardinals would hopefully sign two of them and have them battle it out. Canaday, out of Portland State, and Dillon, from Campbell, were two on Jones' short list.

The hope was to keep the list quiet, knowing the Cards would have to wait post-draft to get their guys. Jones did go to see other long snappers on various pro days and there were some that the Cards liked, but it was mostly "a whole lot of smoke and mirrors."

The Cardinals had one huge benefit in their chase for their top choices: A wide-open job. Both Canaday and Dillon said that was a big reason for wanting to come to Arizona. There is no guarantee one will definitely become the permanent long snapper – both Jones and coach Bruce Arians stressed the need to perform in game situations – but both Canaday and Dillon are confident.

"It's a learning process," Dillon said. "As much as we can absorb, we will and translate it to the preseason. I do think it will go down to the last preseason game."

Jones believes if Leach hadn't been used as a tight end in practice situations earlier in his career, he might've had another couple of seasons in him. Instead, it's one-on-one to find someone new.

"I do think those kids will leave from here life-long friends," Jones said, "even though one of them isn't going to get the big paycheck."

Rookies and selected others get some Phase 2 work on the eve of OTAs

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