TAMPA — Perhaps it’s the nature of Zach Triner’s position. Ideally, long snappers command zero attention if they’re efficiently performing their inconspicuous but invaluable task.
In accordance with that job description, Triner went about his business Thursday night, snapping for punts, point-after tries, and ultimately, the game-winning field goal.
The only thing high about any of them was the pain threshold of Triner himself. The fact that few Bucs peers or coaches realized it at the time was on point for his mostly unheralded position and past (undrafted out of Division II Assumption College).
“That’s the grit of this team,” Bucs return specialist Jaydon Mickens said Monday. “That’s the determination, the bottom end of this roster that people don’t really care about and people don’t really see.”
The Bucs’ third-year specialty snapper, Triner, 30, tore a finger tendon on his left hand on Tampa Bay’s second punt of the night. Coach Bruce Arians, however, said he didn’t learn of it until seeing the official injury report. Mickens and the other special-teams regulars also remained in the dark.
“We didn’t find out actually until (Monday) when we had our first meeting,” Mickens said. “It was like, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a new long snapper coming in,’ and we all looked, and we saw (Triner’s) hand. He put his hand up, swollen and everything.”
Consider the assorted subplots arising from that 31-29 come-from-behind triumph against the Cowboys. Amid the unfortunate (cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting’s dislocated elbow), the unsightly (four turnovers) and the unnerving (a Tom Brady two-minute drill in the waning moments), Triner provided the unsung.
A scholarship lacrosse player at Siena in a previous life, he moved to Assumption (in Worcester, Mass.) because he missed football, doubling as a defensive end and snapper. When his college career ended in 2014, he spent years futilely trying to land an NFL gig, selling mutual funds when not competing in a camp.
His debut as the Bucs’ long snapper — on Sept. 8, 2019 — occurred nearly five years after his last college game. He has snapped in every Tampa Bay contest since.
On Thursday, he delivered on four Bradley Pinion punts (averaging 49.3 yards with three pinned inside the 20) and, of course, provided the Bucs’ pivotal final snap for Ryan Succop’s decisive 36-yard field goal with two seconds remaining.
“I was really proud of him,” Arians said. “I would’ve not been really happy to have somebody else snapping that ball to win the game. So he gutted it out, and he’ll ... get it fixed up and he’ll be fine.”
Until then, Triner’s on injured reserve, where the minimal stay is three games. Carson Tinker, the Jaguars’ former long snapper, has been signed to replace him until he mends. Because surgery will be required, Triner is expected to be sidelined several weeks.
Even if his pain tolerance suggests he could return in a snap.
“Tough as nails,” Arians said.
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.
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