Home for the winter holiday, Tyler Ott and a bunch of his friends went down to the Yard House Restaurant near Fenway Park to take in the final slate of regular-season NFL games.
One of the games Ott, an undrafted NFL free-agent long snapper, was watching was the Seahawks-49ers game in Santa Clara, California.
And as soon as he saw Nolan Frese’s snap go over the head of punter Jon Ryan, he sensed something went awry.
“Any special teams play that comes on TV, I automatically watch it,” Ott said. “I kind of looked it up (on Twitter) to see what happened, and saw he hurt his ankle.
“A couple hours later, I got a call from the organization that they were flying me in the next day.”
And on Tuesday, the Seahawks placed Frese (high ankle sprain) on injured reserve, and signed Ott to be their long snapper moving forward through the NFC playoffs, beginning Saturday in the wild-card round against Detroit.
“He’s played in games this year and he’s done well,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “His numbers are right as far as his tempo getting the ball back. He’s a good-sized kid (6-foot-3, 253 pounds), and he looks good. We’re going for it like we’re not even going to think twice about it.”
This isn’t Ott’s first experience with the Seahawks.
After Frese had a few shaky moments during the preseason, the team worked out four long snappers leading up to the regular-season opener against Miami. Ott, a Harvard graduate who had been recently released by the New York Giants, was one of those who flew in for a visit.
“They had some really good things to say, and said, ‘Stay ready, you are our No. 1 guy if something happens,’ ” Ott said.
Ott, 24, was signed in late November by Cincinnati as a fill-in for Clark Harris, who was ailing with a strained groin. Ott played in three games with the Bengals before being released Dec. 20.
“I got home in time for Christmas and the New Year,” Ott said.
It was a special holiday time for Ott, who married longtime girlfriend Ashley Wheeler, a former Harvard ice hockey player, this past June. The two live in an apartment in downtown Boston.
Last week, they attended “The Nutcracker” together at the Boston Opera House.
“That is my home base,” Ott said. “And Harvard really made it possible for me keep playing football. Without the staff and the gym there, it would be impossible to stay ready for this kind of stuff to happen on a dime.”
Now, Ott is thrust right into the heat of the NFL playoffs on a championship contending team.
NO LOVE FOR GLOVE
Since dislocating his middle finger in the first quarter against Chicago on Dec. 11, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has kept playing by wearing a protective glove over his throwing hand.
The results have not been good — he’s turned the ball over six times (five interceptions, one fumble) in the four games since suffering the injury.
“He obviously had to work through some things simply because of the fact that he’s thrown all of his life without a glove on that hand, and now he’s got to have an apparatus on it. It’s going to take a little bit of working through,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s had an opportunity now for a couple weeks to keep working with it, and it’s getting better all the time.”
The Seahawks were loose at the start of practice Tuesday. Defensive end Michael Bennett strummed air guitar to the rock music blaring through the indoor practice facility. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell tried to throw 40-yard passes into a garbage can. And after practiced ended, the players held a 3-point shooting contest on the portable basket that is along one of the sidelines. Thomas Rawls appeared to make a few — amid some air balls. … Despite gaining just 14 yards on eight carries in the win over the 49ers, Rawls will remain Seattle’s starting running back, Carroll said. ... Injured tailback C.J. Prosise (shoulder) is expected to ramp up activity this week, which will include lots of running, in anticipation of trying to return to practice next week. ... Detroit has lost its past eight NFL playoff games, tied for the longest losing streak in NFL history.