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The Most Underappreciated Eagle?

He's one of the best in the entire league at his craft, yet is arguably one of the most underappreciated players on his own team.

You might think I'm writing about fullback Leonard Weaver, an All-Pro, but you would be incorrect.

In the last 59 games, including playoffs, the Eagles have not had to concern themselves with an important facet of the game that only goes noticed when it's botched. And that's because of Pro Bowl longsnapper Jon Dorenbos.

"My position isn't exactly a glorious position, right? To have respect from the guys and work with guys like Dave (Akers) and Sav (Rocca) is the biggest compliment in the world," Dorenbos said after a recent OTA. "I think the fans do appreciate consistency. It's not that it doesn't go unnoticed. It's just not the most glorious position, but I love it."

Away from the group installation periods and team drills at practice, Dorenbos will snap anywhere from 60 to 100 balls every day. But for all of the practice he'll do now, once the season starts he has to be perfect. Quarterback Kevin Kolb will throw an errant pass at some point. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson will probably drop the football at least once. A quarterback may escape the clutches of defensive end Trent Cole.

But if Dorenbos, who will get fewer than 10 snaps per game, messes up; it could cost the team a game and possibly him his job.

"It comes with the job. If anything, I think it helps you. It helps you with life. It helps you in business. It helps you with family. You have to strive to be as perfect as you can," said Dorenbos, who was signed by the Eagles in 2006 after a career-ending injury to longtime longsnapper Mike Bartrum. "Every time you might be off a little bit, you hope that the people around you pick you up and make you better than you are at that moment."

And just because we haven't seen a snap from Dorenbos in the dirt or fly over the head of the punter doesn't mean that every one has been perfect. There are many nuances that the media or the fans will never appreciate.

"One of the toughest things about being a specialist is that if you're off just a little bit, and it may go unnoticed to the fans, you can't let that take over your mind and your mental game," Dorenbos said. "You have to forget about it."

Dorenbos, a well-renowned magician, has plenty of tricks to help keep his focus. For starters, he sits at the end of the bench every game and only watches it on the Jumbotron. A motivational speaker, Dr. Kevin Elko, also provided Dorenbos with some helpful advice.

"Every time you go out there, 'Just fire it!'" Dorenbos said of Elko's advice. "One of the important things is to not tell yourself, 'Don't screw up. Don't screw up.' It's negative feedback. You're thinking about screwing up when you say, 'Don't screw up!' It's about not thinking and letting those 100 snaps in practice carry over to one snap. Think on the practice field so you don't have to in the game."

When Dorenbos was beginning his career seven years ago in Buffalo, the best piece of advice that he may have ever received came from the most unlikely source - a security guard on the sideline.

"My first year, I would snap all game and I would be exhausted," Dorenbos said. "A security guard came up and wanted to know why I snapped all game. He told me, 'You know what you're doing. Just sit down.' You never know where you're going to get coached."

Coming off of his first Pro Bowl nomination last season, Dorenbos' job might be a little easier in 2010. No, he still has to read the non-verbal cues from Akers and Rocca to make sure the timing on a field goal attempt is right. He still has to snap the slick K-ball, which gets worse as the game goes on because as you go through footballs you have to use newer and shinier balls that also don't travel as far.

The safety aspect of Dorenbos' job will be easier as a new rule passed for this season states that a defenseless player can not be hit in the head or neck area by an opponent who launches himself and uses his helmet, shoulder or forearm to make contact. While that will make Dorenbos' job less hazardous, he said that it will give new longsnappers a tremendous boost.

"In my opinion, it's good and bad. It's good because it could potentially take pressure off of us. It's bad that the adjustment for college guys is going to be so much easier," Dorenbos said. "The biggest adjustment when you're making the league as a rookie is getting smashed. That first year is a huge difference. That's what really makes or breaks a lot of snappers trying to break in."

But odds are that's all you'll hear Dorenbos say about the topic for the rest of the year because the only time you hear from a longsnapper is usually when something goes wrong. And that's just fine with him.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 7:00 p.m., June 6

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