"Snap Decision" Lands Laptad LS Job................
Snap decision lands Laptad a job with Bears
By Brad Biggs, Tribune reporter 2:52 p.m. CST, November 23, 2011
The Chicago Bears are in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt and have chosen to replace the player with the franchise record for games played with a rookie who has yet to appear in an NFL game.
Long snapper Pat Mannelly, a fixture of durability and consistency for the franchise since 1998, will be replaced by Jake Laptad, an undrafted free agent from Kansas.
It’s a decision the Bears made after Laptad spent two weeks snapping to special teams coordinator Dave Toub before practice last month. The Bears used Laptad as a long snapper in the preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 1 and wanted to see where he was in his development during the season. So, the coach took Laptad out before practice every day. When Mannelly suffered a torn ACL in his left knee last Sunday, the decision to go with the unproven long snapper with a handful of experienced options on the street was made. (Seems Toub can list clairvoyance among his many other coaching talents)
The Bears didn’t even know Laptad could snap when they signed him in July to play defensive end. He was a backup snapper in college because the Jayhawks didn’t want to use a starting defensive player in that role. (Stroke of luck here I'd say)
“If I hadn’t spoken up there is no way I would be here right now,” Laptad said. “It’s awesome.” (And hey coach!!!!! I can hike the ball too. I'm a DE and a "Hiker")
Toub kept him after practice the next day in camp to check him out and worked with him from that point forward. After Laptad was released in final cuts, he returned to Lawrence, Kan., where he worked out every day, dragging his roommate Justin Springer out to catch snaps every day. He’d snap for 15 to 20 minutes, getting 35 to 50 snaps in.
Last weekend, Laptad had a private tutoring session with former NFL punter Louie Aguiar in St. Louis. He credits Mannelly with helping him learn the craft.
“Just little advice here and there,” Laptad said. “If I was holding the ball maybe too tight tell me to loosen my grip, just little stuff that helped out my snapping. He was great.”
A 6-4, 260 pounds, Laptad had ideal size for the role. He’ll hold up well on the line and is athletic enough to cover punts. Mannelly has had double-digit tackles three times in his career because he’s so good getting downfield at 6-5, 265 pounds.
Now, the chance is here for Laptad, who before the preseason finale hadn’t snapped in a game since high school in Jenks, Okla.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to get out there and just to have a chance to play in the NFL,” he said. “I don’t want (Mannelly) to be hurt or anything, but just to have another opportunity at this it’s awesome.”
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