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James Stone Switching Hands


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Snap to it: Falcons rookie James Stone has no problem switching handsNovember 7, 2014 10:00:18 AM PSTBy Vaughn McClure

Some might consider James Stone a bit of a freak because of one unusual habit, but the Atlanta Falcons center views it as second nature now.

The undrafted rookie free agent from Tennessee, who became the starter following season-ending ACL tears for Joe Hawley and Peter Konz, uses his left hand to shotgun snap and his right hand to snap when the quarterback is under center.

"All quarterbacks like to get their under-center right-handed, and it's just more comfortable for me to do the gun with my left hand because I'm left-handed," Stone said. "I've been doing it that way since college."

Falcons offensive line Mike Tice, in his 18th year as a coach, said he has never witnessed a center change hands in such a manner.

"When I was playing in Seattle, we had a center, John Yarno, who was a left-handed center, but it really didn't matter because Jim Zorn was a left-handed quarterback," Tice said. "I've seen some left-handed centers over the years and none of them really panned out.

"We had a rookie center in here for a local workout who was a left-handed center. And I said, `Hey, if you want to be able to make it, you've got to snap right-handed.' And he said, 'Well, I can't do that.' And I said, 'That's funny. I just came from Tennessee, and there's a kid at Tennessee named James Stone who deep-snaps left-handed, and he changes the ball to his right hand when he snaps under center.' And he said, 'No way.' And I said, 'Yeah way.'"

Even other centers around the league were surprised by Stone's unique ability.

"That's the strangest thing I've ever heard," Packers center Corey Linsley said. "That is really weird. ... He must be ambidextrous. That's pretty impressive."

There is an interesting back story to why Stone started switching hands in the first place. It was a suggestion made by his former Tennessee offensive line coach Sam Pittman, a well-respected college assistant who has had eight linemen drafted in the past two years. Pittman spent one season tutoring Stone in 2012.

"The year before I got in there, James had lost his starting position because he couldn't shotgun with his right hand," Pittman explained. "So we looked up the rule, and basically the rule is if you're going to switch hands, you've got to put both hands on the ball. And so we allowed him to snap with his dominant hand. We changed up some ways he was gripping the ball and the way he was turning the ball. And he went from not be able to start at center to one heck of a football player.

"It really didn't have anything to do with me, except that I knew he was a really good player. We had moved him to guard, and I just thought he was so valuable at center."

Stone has not tinkered his style one bit since joining the Falcons.

"Nah, because I've been doing it so long," he said. "You've got to know if the quarterback is under center or not, and the quarterback does a good job of tapping me and letting me know. I can switch hands on the ball as long as I have one hand always touching the ball."

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was asked if there have been any challenges getting accustomed to Stone switching hands.

"I don't even notice it," Ryan said. "Under center, he snaps it with his right hand, the same way that I've always gotten it my entire career. And in the gun, it doesn't make much of a difference."

Tice rarely notices it himself.

"If you didn't know and you're watching the game, you'd never know," Tice said. "It's very subtle. He does a nice job with it. That's a tribute to him. He's a very intelligent player. So being as smart as he is -- he's very smart -- he's able to do that with poise and not turn into hyperventilating and saying, 'Oh [shoot], I've got to change hands.' He does a great job."

Packers reporter Rob Demovsky contributed to this story.

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that is pretty cool, but someone answer me this, WTF would it matter, as far as having a rule saying a center can't switch hands? Is that a disadvantage to the D line somehow?

what quarterback was it a few weeks back that's right handed but did a push pass type shovel thing with his left hand for a completion. If it's against the rules for a center to switch hands, it should be for the QB too

Edited by papachaz
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I know the announcers mentioned it last game. Would just be uncomfortable for the QB to be getting the snap LH. Somewhat surprised he is the only one, but there are probably other's who are LH but do all the snapping RH.

Similar to how you rarely see Catchers in MLB throwing LH. They may bat LH, but have to field RH. May have changed some in recent yrs, I don't follow like I use to.

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I know the announcers mentioned it last game. Would just be uncomfortable for the QB to be getting the snap LH. Somewhat surprised he is the only one, but there are probably other's who are LH but do all the snapping RH.

Similar to how you rarely see Catchers in MLB throwing LH. They may bat LH, but have to field RH. May have changed some in recent yrs, I don't follow like I use to.

I am the same way. i am right hand dominant but i bat LH, i shoot layups LH and jump shots RH, Golf swing with my LH, i fight south paw, play console games RH but the big standup arcade games LH. My family says i am confused. i saw i was suppose to be LH but they didnt notice.

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I can relate. I'm right-handed but I feel more comfortable swinging left. I don't consider myself ambidextrous though; it's just something I'm more accustomed to.

I'm left handed and use my left hand with any sort of tool, but I write with my right hand.

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I eat and write left handed. Throw and golf right handed. The weird one is tennis. Because I learned ping pong first and played left handed, I naturally wanted to play tennis left handed. But I could only serve right handed, so I used to serve right and then switch the racket to the left.

I like Stone. A lot. I've got a gut feeling he will be our starting center for a long time.

Edited by since68andcounting
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I am a lefty for writing but right handed and right sided for most other things - as a kid this was explained as being cross lateral, nice to hear that there are many of us that can switch it up. Ambidextrous though is having equal comfort and precision with either hand/side.

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`Hey, if you want to be able to make it, you've got to snap right-handed.' And he said, 'Well, I can't do that.' And I said, 'That's funny. I just came from Tennessee, and there's a kid at Tennessee named James Stone who deep-snaps left-handed, and he changes the ball to his right hand when he snaps under center.' And he said, 'No way.' And I said, 'Yeah way.'"

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I know the announcers mentioned it last game. Would just be uncomfortable for the QB to be getting the snap LH. Somewhat surprised he is the only one, but there are probably other's who are LH but do all the snapping RH.

Similar to how you rarely see Catchers in MLB throwing LH. They may bat LH, but have to field RH. May have changed some in recent yrs, I don't follow like I use to.

It's pretty tough to throw someone out stealing third if you are left handed. Nor do you see left handed throwing infielders (except for firstbasemen.) You have to reset your feet for every throw.

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