Chiefs long snapper Thomas Gafford embraces competition

Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton with long snapper Thomas Gafford
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton with long snapper Thomas Gafford The Kansas City Star

Kicker Cairo Santos missed two of his three field goal attempts in the Chiefs’ 31-13 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, and for that, long snapper Thomas Gafford is accepting at least some of the blame.

“Yeah, we were a little off,” Gafford said. “It starts with me. The snap is the first thing. I’ve got to be more consistent, so I definitely take some responsibility for the missed kicks.

“As a pro moving forward, I’ve got to have more focus, more consistency, and just be pinpoint accurate every play. We’re getting to the point of the season now where every play matters a lot.”

The Chiefs made that known when they signed long snapper Charley Hughlett, 24, to the practice squad.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said the club is simply taking a look at Hughlett, who has appeared in several training camps and on practice squads, most recently in New England and Cleveland, but has not played in an NFL game.

“To be honest with you, I haven’t even seen him snap a ball so (general manager John) Dorsey has seen more of him than what I have,” Reid said. “I’ll take a peek at him and see what he looks like. We are always making sure we have enough competition at each position.”

Reid added that Gafford is fine physically, an assertion the seventh-year pro confirmed Wednesday.

“It’s more mental than anything,” Gafford said. “Physically, I feel great. So I’m making no excuses here. I didn’t perform the way I should last week. So I’m excited to get back at it this week.”

Gafford said he’s long come to peace with the realization that his position has little margin for error.

“You’ve got to be the same guy every time as a long snapper,” Gafford said. “Consistency is No. 1. So what I go back to is … I’m a good long snapper and I’ve shown that, but last week I was not. So I’ve got to get back to being the same guy every time and having that laser focus of throwing those strikes every time.”

During the open portion of practice Wednesday, at least one of Gafford’s snaps skipped in to holder Dustin Colquitt during a succession of field goals by Santos.

Gafford, however, was optimistic beforehand that his struggles Sunday were an aberration.

“We were really in a groove and doing well,” Gafford said. “It’s amazing how just one lack of focus will sneak up on you, and now we’ve got to weather that storm of really getting back to what we do. I keep going back to focus and that’s what it’s all about.”

To make room on the practice squad for Hughlett and receiver Corbin Louks, who was also signed Tuesday, the Chiefs released tight end Adam Schiltz and placed wide receiver Armon Binns on injured reserve.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to Follow him on Twitter: @TerezPaylor.

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