Atlanta Falcons: Meet long snapper Josh Harris

Falcons rookie long snapper Josh Harris, from Auburn University and Carrollton, practices his craft at team practice in Flowery Branch on Monday, July 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons rookie long snapper Josh Harris, from Auburn University and Carrollton, practices his craft at team practice in Flowery Branch on Monday, July 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Long snapper Josh Harris, an undrafted rookie from Auburn and Carrollton, beat out veteran Joe Zelenka for one of the key special teams positions when the team trimmed the roster down to 53 players.

He’s set to open the season against the Chiefs at 1 p.m. Sunday in Kansas City.

“When I found out I was really excited just to think that all the hard work and dedication and support from my family and friends that had gone into this process had paid off,” Harris said. “To achieve a childhood dream of mine like this really means a lot to me and it’s really special. I’ve made the team now, it’s time to just go out there and focus on my job.”

By going with Harris over Zelenka, the Falcons, who are up against the salary cap, saved $480,883.

“His velocity on the ball is extremely good,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Not only on the long snaps, but [also] on the short snaps. He’s a guy who can get it back there very quickly.”

It was a tough decision for the franchise.

“You have a guy like Joe Zelenka, who’s a top notch person and a very talented snapper against a young guy who was really driven to work very, very hard at developing and he did develop over the offseason and into the spring and into this preseason,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “It was another battle that went right down to the very, very end. We just decided that it was in the best interest for the long-term success of this team that we went with Josh over Joe.”

Harris and Zelenka were closely evaluated.

“It’s all about handling times and working on splits on how you’re going to get the ball from the center to the holder, how the holder is going to get it to the tee and how the kicker is going to kick,” Smith said. “On a punt, there are certain parameters that you’re going to look at.”

Normally, no one talks to the long snapper unless there is a bad snap. They don’t like to be popular media guys.

“I just have to go out there do what I’m here to do,” Harris said. “I have to provide for this team, not only as a teammate, but I have to go out there and be the snapper.”

Harris just tried to keep a level head and perform during training camp.

“What they were really looking for was just consistency and showing that I could do it,” Harris said. “Coming out of college, we ran a spread-punt formation that didn’t require me to block or anything like that. They were looking at that too, just because it was so much different than it was in college. I think I did a pretty good job there. Those were just some of the things they were looking at. I just need to keep getting better every day.”


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14 comments Add your comment

Seen This B4

September 4th, 2012
9:09 am

Seen This B4

September 4th, 2012
9:09 am

Jimmy Crack

September 4th, 2012
9:21 am

Josh better start eating some biscuits and gravy because 225lbs for a LS will not cut it!

It must have been a roster money decision concerning Joe. Good luck Z!

the real rick

September 4th, 2012
10:32 am

Hate to see Z go…quality guy…..I hope he is picked up by someone……..Im sure this is a cap situation and long term will give ATL some room next year (s)… probably a good biz move….

Eddog 45

September 4th, 2012
11:04 am

Jimmyy Crack–i agree with you, 225lbs is not enough weight in the NFL. I know defense’s you can no longer line-up over center but, guys are very to get to the center after the snap. The Falcons better be able to protect the gaps up the middle if they are to be successful on field-goals.

North FLA Falcon

September 4th, 2012
11:10 am

He didn’t have to block in college? Welcome to the NFL, kid!

[...] Meet long snapper Josh Harris [...]


September 4th, 2012
12:26 pm

A long snapper? Chris Mortenson and Len Pasquarelli are rolling … on the floor in laughter.


September 4th, 2012
12:28 pm

Enter your comments here

[...] Meet long snapper Josh Harris [...]


September 4th, 2012
3:03 pm

Joe Zelenka was only 10 lbs heavier Lol. With Harris you get a heck of a lot more athleticism and as they said velocity on the snaps. I would easily trade 10 lbs for a guy who can get down field and actually participate in the play other than just the snap. Harris is also a couple of inches shorter so the 10 lbs is even less noticeable when you consider the leverage gained. Harris ran a 4.82 at his Pro Day and no disrespect to Zelenka but I’ll bet he has not seen a 4.82 forty in many years. Josh is young and will pick up a few additional lbs with maturity…no issue there at all.


September 4th, 2012
3:30 pm

BTW Saints LS weighs 235 Lbs. Giants LS is 249 Lbs. Patriots LS 260 Lbs. 49er’s 242 Lbs. Packer LS 255Lbs. That’s 5 pretty good teams there I’d say.


September 4th, 2012
5:03 pm

Not to be mean but did he say long snapper and hard work in the same sentence?

Mr. Mean

September 4th, 2012
6:18 pm

I’m sure you could do it on any team in the NFL. Right?? You just chose not to…I get it. Job doesn’t pay enough. The work is too easy for you. I understand. #CarryOn