Only two months ago, the Arizona Cardinals had two long snappers on their 90-man roster in what would have been a battle between Joe Fortunato and rookie Matt Hembrough.
For the first time since 2016, it looked as though the Cardinals were going to have a new player manning the long snapper position. Aaron Brewer held that position in Arizona for the last seven seasons and Mike Leach for seven seasons (2009-15) prior.
With practices taking place and training camp already underway, the battle for the long snapper job for the Cardinals’ 2023 season has changed.
Brewer was re-signed to a one-year contract on June 6 as he now enters his eighth season with Arizona. In a corresponding move, Fortunato was released. Matt Hembrough was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a back injury earlier this week.
As he enters his 12th season in the NFL, Brewer has an extensive long snapper history having played in 162 games with 1,497 special teams snaps. In 2015, he won Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos in what was Peyton Manning’s final season in the NFL.
Brewer’s return to the Cardinals is not without competition.
On July 25, the Cardinals added multiple veterans to the roster prior to the start of training camp which includes long snapper Jack Coco.
Coco, 24, was an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech who won the Green Bay Packers’ long snapper job last season. He defied the odds with his undrafted status in his triumphant win over Steven Wirtel to make the Packers’ active roster.
He began as an undersized offensive lineman at Johns Creek (Ga.) High School, was a Georgia Tech University walk-on as a long snapper and tight end, and worked his way into the NFL after having a successful rookie minicamp tryout with the Packers.
Coco played in all 17 games with the Packers last season but was released in May in favor of rookie Broughton Hatcher and Matt Orzech.
Brewer figures to have the lead in the long snapper competition due to his NFL experience and familiarity with snapping to kicker Matt Prater, who he played with for four total seasons in Denver and Arizona. Coco is around a decade younger than Brewer and has a full 17-game season of experience under his belt.