Trey Burton didn’t understand the hubbub about his fourth quarter long snap after Sunday’s loss to Washington. Three different circles of reporters cropped up outside his locker, each asking him the same questions. How often does he practice long snapping? When was the last time he’d practiced? Was he ready?
“It’s just snapping the ball, man,” he said, chuckling, after the media maelstrom had subsided. “I just take it, and I snap it.”
Of course, as we saw on Sunday, it’s not quite that simple in execution. Brent Celek struggled mightily when he tried to feed a ball to Donnie Jones for a field goal. Even Burton’s successful snap was a bit high. Jones had to come up with an impressive snare.
“Donnie did a great job,” Burton said. “I mean, it was really high. He snagged it and brought it down. He’s obviously good at what he does. The majority of it’s on him.”
When Celek got hurt during the game, Burton, the No. 3 long snapper on the team’s depth chart, got three practice snaps in before the live version. He thought they felt good. He’d practiced in college, but hadn’t actually long snapped in a live game since his Pop Warner days.
Burton trotted on to the field, sized up the ball, and then let it fly. The Eagles took a 22-21 lead on Caleb Sturgis’s field goal.
As Burton trotted off the field, he sought out Celek on the sideline.
“The ball we used in the game was a lot slicker than the one we used on the sideline,” Burton noted. “I came over to [Brent Celek] and I asked him, did the same thing happen to him after I snapped it? And he said yeah.”
Burton just happened to get a better bounce.
It was yet another contribution from Burton on a banner day for the team’s third tight end. After sitting mired on the team’s bench behind Celek and Zach Ertz, two stalwarts at the position, Burton is getting the looks he clearly deserved in his third year with the Eagles.
He set two career highs with seven catches and 65 yards on Sunday, and factored heavily into the team’s passing attack all afternoon long. Only Ertz (10) and Jordan Matthews (8) caught more passes than Burton, and he saw the same number of targets as Matthews, the team’s best wide receiver.
In his last six outings, Burton has 19 catches for 197 yards, an average of 3.1 catches for 32.8 yards per game. He has 17 catches and 169 more yards than Brent Celek this season, and said he’s begun to establish a comfortable rapport with Carson Wentz.
He’s not doing anything differently, Burton says. He’s just playing.
“I think the biggest change, in reality, is that I’m playing more,” Burton said. “I wasn’t playing as much in the past. So the more reps we get, obviously the more comfortable we’re going to be. [Wentz] does a really good job of going through his reads and his progressions, finding the guy he’s supposed to throw it to.”
Wentz, Burton said, hasn’t singled him out during the week as a guy he’s looking for, nor have Doug Pederson or Frank Reich actively shifted the team’s game plans.
“It’s the flow of the game,” Burton said. “People get hurt, people are healthy, whatever happens. It all influences how much I’m going to get in. Because, look at it, I’ve got some great guys in front of me. I’m the third tight end.”
He’s the third tight end, and the third long snapper, two positions normally sans glamour. And yet here Burton is, shining brighter still.