As most of you already know, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Mat McBriar yesterday to try and improve the team’s fortunes at the punter position.
The move itself made a tremendous amount of sense, especially since Zoltan Mesko’s “junior varsity” punts weren’t cutting the mustard for Mike Tomlin and the rest of Pittsburgh’s coaching staff.
Of course, a new punter coming to town is nothing new for the Steelers in recent years. In fact, this team has featured a “revolving door” of players at that position since the 2007 campaign.
Revisiting the “Revolving Door”
The Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to have solved their punting woes in late April of 2007 when they selected Daniel Sepulveda in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Veteran Chris Gardocki struggled through most of the 2006 campaign, and Pittsburgh’s brass saw it fit to select the two-time Ray Guy Award-winner out of Baylor with the 112th overall pick.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, Sepulveda had an inconsistent and injury-plagued career in Pittsburgh after he won the team’s Rookie of the Year award back in 2007. The former Baylor Bear missed the entirety of the 2008 season with a knee injury, and veterans Mitch Berger and Paul Ernster performed extremely poorly during his absence.
After a “down” 2009, Sepulveda finally appeared to “break out” in 2010 when he finished seventh in the league in “average yards per punt” (45.5) and sixth in “net yards per punt” (39.1). Another knee injury however cost Sepulveda the last month of the 2010 campaign, and an injured meniscus forced the team to bring Jeremy Kapinos back for most of the 2011 season as well.
When Sepulveda was not re-signed last fall, it looked like Kapinos would win the starting gig. The former Penn State punter however was limited by a back injury, and rookie UDFA Drew Butler won the job for the 2012 campaign. Butler however struggled at times last fall and was released in favor of Zoltan Mesko two months ago.
Mesko’s “junior varsity” punts did not sit well with Mike Tomlin, and he was released in favor of Mat McBriar who was inked yesterday.
For those of you playing the “home game,” the Steelers have had seven different punters, including McBriar, start for them since the 2007 regular season began.
McBriar appears to only be a stopgap for this team for the rest of the 2013 regular season, but the job will be his to win and keep on a team which has been unable to find a long-term solution at the punter position for close to a decade.
Personally, I hope that the Steelers’ brass elect to bring three or four punters into training camp next fall and at least sign a rookie or two as free agents after the 2014 NFL Draft next May. Heck, I wouldn’t mind if they even brought in Butler or Sepulveda for another look too.
Although looking for the next “Ray Guy” might be an extremely lofty goal, the least the front office could do is try to find some long-term competency at the position. I am certainly sick of the “revolving door” of punters who have been paraded into town over the last seven years, and I am sure that most of you are as well.
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