Chris Snee Looking to Rebound from “Off” Year
Even when he’s not at his absolute best, Giant’s right guard Chris Snee is still as good as, or better, than a number of players at his position around the NFL.
But don’t tell that to Snee, who’s a self-proclaimed perfectionist who wants to win every battle and who wants his teammates to never have to worry about what they are going to get from him.
Last year, however, Snee, who made the Pro Bowl three straight seasons from 2008 to 2010, had an off-year by his standards, a result of some injuries that to this day he refused to disclose (though one known injury he dealt with was a concussion that caused his streak of 101 regular season games started to end), and the suddenness of reporting to work after the lockout only to find that long-time line mates Rich Seubert and Shaun O’Hara had been released by the team.
“I’m obviously not going to place any blame on (not having an off-season last year), but it’s nice when you get that time in the off-season to work together with the other guys,” Snee said.
“Last year, you know you become accustomed to working with the same guys, knowing what position we’d be in, knowing what combination blocks we work well together with, what we need to work on and things like that. So when you’re kind of thrown together two days before camp and you have two guys who were huge members of our line released before camp, it was difficult to move past that at first.”
Add to that the injuries along the offensive line that forced the coaches constantly reshuffle their lineup, and it’s pretty easy to see how things could be rough for a unit that takes tremendous pride in doing its job.
“It was tough, I’m not going to lie,” said Snee, “but it was also very rewarding, with winning the Super Bowl, and for us, getting the running game going a little bit there toward the end.”
Snee credited the collective will of his line mates to work past the challenges the lockout and injuries presented, noting that it taught them all a valuable lesson about overcoming adversity.
“I think you have a bunch of guys with a common goal and who all buy into the system. We use that all in, we all bought in and we all wanted to win the championship, so to do that, we had to be smart and put our pride aside to get the job done.”
Despite their happy ending, Snee said that it still burns him and his teammates when they are reminded of the rushing stats in the first 14 games of the season last year. Although the offensive line was only part of the problem, many people are still quick to point fingers at the unit for not having done their job.
“It’s always going to fall on our shoulders. That’s what we’re used to on the o-line, fair or not, that’s the way it goes,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong; we definitely have to play better, but there are some things that could have been changed around the board. But it’s okay. It’s our fault, and we have to do something about it.”
The offensive line has done just that, spending this past off-season really getting to know one another’s tendencies and working toward improving their communication. Snee in particular is going through a transition as after having Kareem McKenzie alongside of him for so many years, he now is getting used to having David Diehl line up to his right.
“There are always some things you have to get used to when you get a new guy next to you,” he said. “Kareem and I were together for so long and had out communication set, so now when you put a new guy in there, there are things to work on. The good thing though is David’s been around a long time and is as professional as you get, so that transition will be easier. We also played together before, albeit a long time ago, but we both know the offense fairly well so it should be a smooth transition.”
One example Snee said he’ll need to get used to with Diehl lining up next to him is his teammate’s outgoing style.
“For the longest time Richie (Seubert) and Dave were on the same side, and they were both vocal. They were constantly talking at the line of scrimmage with their calls, while Kareem and I would do our talking in the huddle and maybe coming toward the line because we were always worried about people picking up our calls. David’s very vocal and wants to make sure everyone’s on the same page, so I’ll have to do a better job adjusting to that. It shouldn’t be hard.”
Snee also said it will help him now that the man lining up to his left, center David Baas, has a full year in the Giants’ offense and is more confident in making the line calls.
“That was definitely wasn’t an easy situation for him to come into last year,” Snee said. “Shaun O’Hara was the head of our line for seven years and then David has to come in and fill those shoes, and he was never able to stay healthy which is tough. You’re the big free agent trying to fill big shoes and you get nicked up game after game, so it was frustrating for him. But you can see now that he understands what we’re doing and he’s comfortable. We’ve become close as a unit. He’s a guy that’ll easy to get along with and we communicate well.”
Snee has also acknowledged his hand in the offensive line’s showing, vowing to do whatever it takes to get his game back to the level he expects of himself.
“I have a list of things I want to work on, but my main thing I want to feel good and healthy,” he said, again refusing to speak about the injuries that appeared to affect him last year. “As you get older, when you come out of training camp, it just seems like that gets harder to do, so that’s my goal, to feel strong, and to have my legs feel strong.”
To do that, the 30-year-old Snee said he’s modified his training schedule.
“I’m only 30, which is not old, but it’s old in football years,” he said with a grin. “I used to be a guy that would load up the bars and lift as much as I could, but my body doesn’t allow me to do that anymore, so that’s where you have to try to change things and find things that I can still do while still maintaining strength. It’s tough, but (Giants strength and conditioning coach) Jerry Palmieri has done a good job working with me and adjusting my work out because I can’t do some of the things the other guys can do.”
He also said he’s tried to clean up his diet, a challenge because he’s a fan of his wife’s cooking. “You get older in this league, and your recovery – everything really—gets more difficult,” he said. “I remember the days when I didn’t have to ice down after practice. Now I’m going in before and after to get iced. You just have to change your schedule and tactics to get ready.”
So far the changes have worked. “I feel good. I’m confident. I think I still have something left in me. If I didn’t feel that way, if I didn’t feel I was capable, then I wouldn’t be here.”
Still he knows that at some point down the line, that decision is coming. “When I feel like I can’t do some things I usually do, then it will be time to walk away. But I’m not ready to go yet.”