Player: Will Monday
Overview: On the list of exciting training camp battles to watch, the faceoff between Will Monday and Jordan Berry is definitely at the bottom of the list. But as much fun as it is to make fun of kickers and punters, smart football fans know it plays a role in every game.
If you ignore special teams, they'll be field position issues that affect both sides of the ball all year long. Berry didn't have an awful year punting the football, but he didn't exactly shine either. In yards per punt he finished 29th out of 32, which is an area for obvious improvement. What should be encouraging for Monday is the fact the Steelers, under Mike Tomlin, have always been inconsistent at finding a punter -- anyone remember Mitch Burger?
In the last five seasons the Steelers have used seven different punters. That's a tremendous amount of turnover, and the fact that Berry and Monday are basically on equal footing, (pun kind of intended. Sorry.) should be encouraging to the former Duke product. If he can out perform Berry in camp, and the preseason, he should have the job. If it's close, the team will probably keep Berry due to his one year of experience, but that one year isn't going to be enough to make the coaches ignore a superior talent if Monday shows them something.
Monday earned a first team all ACC nod in 2012, third team honors his next two years, and second team honors his senior year. He made a bit of a name for himself as a trick play specialist when he attempted five passes and completed four of them over the course of his career. He also became a small YouTube sensation when he punted the ball 79 yards for a Belk Bowl record against Cincinnati in 2012. His draft profile notes his power is inconsistent, but on film you can see Monday compensate by being good at directing his punts and leaving limited room for a returner to navigate. Normally I'd say the incumbent would have the upper hand in a training battle but given the trend of often changing punters, I think Monday wins the week one gig.
Four years All ACC honors
Good at angling kicks
Consistent all four years
Some experience with trick plays- can be something Tomlin uses since he's an aggressive coach with regards to fakes
Gets punts off quickly
Freshman year was his best year
Needs to improve hang time
Struggles with power consistency
Chances of Making the team: 50%
Highlight of the player:
Watch that 79-yard punt I mentioned from the 2012 Belk Bowl