The Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp battle which has been highly contested has been on special teams. No, not a return man, but the punting battle between Jordan Berry and rookie Pressley Harvin III.
So far, it has been a back-and-forth effort between the veteran and the rookie punters. When Harvin punted the entire game vs. the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game, he put on a show. He pinned the opponents deep in their own end, and his end-over-end punt even resulted in a fumble recovery for the special teams.
In Week 1, vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, it was Berry who put on a show. Berry also pinned the opponents deep in their own end, and showed a finesse with the ball he has yet to display in his time with the Steelers. Harvin was supposed to punt in the second half, but the Steelers never had to punt for both quarters.
Nonetheless, Special Teams Coordinator Danny Smith knows this competition is far from over.
“It really has been competitive. It really has.” Smith told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s good to see two pros put their best foot forward. No pun intended. But Jordan’s punting the ball better than he ever has and Pressley is very talented, so it’s been quite a competition. And it will continue.”
There were many who criticized the Steelers for drafting Harvin in the 7th round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech. Those were the same people who felt the team would have benefited from drafting another position at that time. That doesn’t bother Smith at all.
“That doesn’t affect me.” Smith said. “That’s the same as a linebacker, that’s the same as a quarterback, that’s the same as a DB. And anybody that doesn’t think so doesn’t understand the game of football. In Pittsburgh, PA, obviously, we like draft choices to make football teams, as everybody does. We’re going to keep the best guy. And I think those are the teams that win, the teams that do that. We don’t keep guys on a hope and a prayer or a wish. We’re going to keep the best guy.”
When you look at the camp battle between Harvin and Berry on paper, you have to wonder if Berry has an advantage considering his experience in the NFL. His overall experience with the Steelers. Smith doesn’t really see it that way.
“It doesn’t really give him a leg up. They’re tough decisions, to your point.” Smith added. “They’re really hard decisions to make for myself, for the head coach, for the GM, for the owner. They’re tough decisions, they really are. But that’s our job and that’s what we’ve got to get done. I have timed everything. I’ve got stacks up there in that dang thing that would blow your mind, and I’m not a big stat guy. But I’ve got times: hand to foot, hangtime, depth, distance, location, all those kinds of things. So, we’ll make a good decision and we’re going to come out with a good punter because I’d say we’ve got two NFL punters in this camp.”
From all reports of camp, and what we’ve seen this preseason, this camp battle seems far from over. In fact, many would say it is pretty square at this moment. With two preseason games remaining, it will be up to one of these two punters to win the job. They’ll have to show consistency punting the ball, and obviously holding for Chris Boswell on point after and field goal attempts.
One of the hottest battles within the Steelers is at punter, bet you never thought you’d hear that entering the regular season.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Detroit Lions this Saturday night at Heinz Field.