Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daniel Sepulveda Out for Season,
Josh Miller Returning?

We don't want to seem hysterical or anything, but the report that Daniel Sepulveda is out for the 2008 season hit pretty hard. No one is going to say he had a perfect rookie season but he certainly performed well enough, and there was hope at least that the punt team for the Steelers was going to continue to improve. However the reality now is that the team now needs a punter -- and someone to hold on Jeff Reed's field goal and extra point attempts -- and we're nothing if not helpful.

Of course the team immediately signed Paul Ernster (waived by Detroit), and as the Steelers own website points out, Mr. Ernster was "[o]riginally a seventh-round pick of the Denver Broncos from Northern Arizona, Ernster, 26, has only one full season in the NFL. In 2006, he punted 80 times for a 41.7-yard average, with 23 kicks down inside the 20-yard line and seven touchbacks." Pretty good numbers (in 2007 Daniel Sepulveda punted 68 times for a 42.4-yard average, with 28 kicks inside the 20-yard line and 2 touchbacks), and he may well prove to be the answer. However there are a number of other punters who the Steelers are, no doubt, looking at including some who are currently on the rosters of other NFL teams.
  • Josh Miller: We admit that this is our favorite amongst the bunch. The former Steelers punter/Bill Cowher whipping boy is, after having been waived by New England, currently on the Tennessee roster in a camp challenge to incumbent Craig Hentrich. In his twelve year career Mr. Miller has punted the football 750 times for an average of 43.1 yards, 248 kicks inside the 20 yard line, and 83 touchbacks.

  • Durant Brooks: This rookie punter, rated as the #1 punter available in the 2008 draft by Ourlads Draft Services, is currently challenging Derrick Frost in Washington. In his senior year at Georgia Tech Mr. Brooks averaged 45.1 yards per kick and had average hang time per kick of 4.39 seconds.

  • Billy Vinnedge: Another rookie kicker, this one is in San Diego. During his final season at Wyoming Mr. Vinnedge averaged 42.66 yards per kick.

  • Zac Atterberry: The fact that we are highlighting a third rookie kicker underscores just how daunting it can be to find an experienced kicker. Mr. Atterberry was an undrafted free agent out of Lindenwood College who was signed by Chicago. Brad Maynard is the incumbent there. NFL Draft Scout rated Mr. Atterberry as the 20th best punter available in the 2008 draft.

  • Jay Ottovegio: Signed by Dallas as an undrafted free agent, this rookie was a second team All-PAC 10 selection at Stanford, and averaged 41.2 yards per kick placed 21 kicks inside the 20 yard line, and only had three touchbacks in his senior season.

  • Mike Dragosavich: Rated by Ourlads as the #2 punter available in the 2008 draft (described as "[b]ig long-levered punter that kicks through the ball"). According to Scott Wright's Draft Countdown Mr. Dragosavich averaged 44.5 yards on 158 career kicks at North Dakota State including a long of 79 yards. He placed 61 of those kicks inside the 20 yards line (38.6%).

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