ENGLEWOOD - There is more to handing an NFL longsnapper job than snapping long.
Denver Broncos longsnapper Casey Kreiter suffered a significant calf strain this week to the point he is expected to miss at least the next two games. To compensate, the Broncos signed veteran longsnapper Thomas Gafford, who will snap against his former Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday night in Denver.
UCHealth Training Center headquarters.
To make room for Gafford on their roster, the Broncos waived backup defensive tackle Darius Kilgo.
Gafford, 33, was the Chiefs longsnapper from 2008-14. He snapped 11 games for John Fox’s Chicago Bears last year and then three more for Jack Del Rio’s Oakland Raiders. He was deer hunting in south Texas when he got the call to come try out on Thanksgiving Day at the Broncos' UCHealth Training Center headquarters.
"It's a funny league,'' Gafford said. "I went into this season comitting to myself that I was going to stay ready for anything at any time. It happened at any time.''
Kreiter, who did not have a bad snap through the Broncos’ first 10 games this year, suffered his calf injury earlier in the week during practice. He could probably manage to snap with a calf injury but the job also entitles blocking for both placekicks and punts, and covering punts.
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak revealed following practice Thursday that defensive lineman Billy Winn was the team’s backup longsnapper. But Winn doesn’t have game experience and Kubiak and Broncos’ general manager John Elway weren't about to experiment with a division game against the Chiefs.
By cutting Kilgo, the Broncos now have an unsual roster mix of seven receivers and only five defensive linemen.
“The rosters are week-to-week at this time of the year,'' Kubiak said. "Obviously, we have a bunch of receivers and were down on the defensive line a little bit right now. We have five active D-linemen. We’re trying to go week-to-week and be as good as we can be. That was a tough issue to deal with on a short-term basis.''