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Denney Got To Share In Fields' Special Moment

Posted Jan 8, 2014

Long snapper helped send punter to his first Pro Bowl.

Kickers, punters and long snappers are so intertwined in their duties that it begs the question why one can be recognized with league honors while the others are not.

Miami Dolphins veteran long snapper John Denney has been to two Pro Bowls (2010 and 2012) but both times he went to Hawaii without either of the players he snapped for. This time around he was invited by punter Brandon Fields, who is making his first Pro Bowl appearance.

“That was way past due,” Denney told The Finsiders. “I’m so excited for him. I’m as excited for him as I was for the chances I had to go when I found out. When I found out that he went I was stoked for him because last year I really expected him to go. I thought he was a shoo-in, so to come out of that he had to be disappointed, but to get the nod this year he’s got to be stoked.”

Even though Denney did his job just as well as last season when he helped Fields lead the NFL in punting with a 50.2 net average, he did not make the cut for 2013. The first time he was selected came the year after former Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter made it for Miami, so Denney has seen there that is no rhyme or reason to the selections.

For long snappers, the best compliment they can be paid is to hear that nobody knows their name because that means they have not had an errant snap that proved costly. There are still instances where these players can make the kind of impact that demands recognition. Denney had one of those in Miami’s home opener against the Atlanta Falcons when he recovered a fumbled punt at the Falcons’ 19 late in the third quarter that led to the tying touchdown in a 27-23 win.

“It’s definitely a highlight for me. Fumble recoveries are few and far between for a long snapper,” said Denney, who is in his ninth season with the Dolphins and is the longest-tenured member of the team. “You only get so many plays, I mean you get maybe seven or eight punts per game so you’re opportunities are limited. To be able to get on a ball like that was definitely fun, exhilarating and an adrenaline rush because it was a big game changer. When you come out of the pile with the ball and the fans go nuts, it gets your emotions going, so it was exciting.

“I remember going down I think I was the first one down and in kind of a desperation layout I tried to sweep his ankle. As soon as I hit the ground I looked up and I saw Don Jones had hit him and the ball came popping back towards me and tow of their guys jumped on it and both of them jumped on it at the same time. Since they were both fighting over it neither one of them got a good grip on it and I reached straight out and I was able to hook the points and had the leverage on it and then I was able to wiggle it under my body.”

Those are the types of plays that stay with a player, especially since the Dolphins were able to convert that turnover into a touchdown and swing the momentum of the game. It ended up being the team’s third consecutive victory to start a season that became a wild roller-coaster ride for all involved.

Denney felt the highs and lows more this time than any of his previous seasons because he admittedly felt this was going to be the year that the playoffs were going to become a reality. Now he’s using the time off to take a little time away from the game and spend more quality time with his wife and five children, which from a professional standpoint he’d rather not be doing with the postseason in full swing.

“You’re only as good as your last game and our last game wasn’t very good,” Denney said. “And to end a season on that note, it hurts because there’s no getting it back right away. There’s no redeeming, getting together and putting it together that next week for a new game. The season’s over, we had our chances and we’ve got a whole offseason to think about that. Hopefully we can use that to drive us a to work harder.”
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