Could Sepulveda Fill Another Need?

If you’ve followed Ryan Wilson’s other blog, you know that he’s a big fan of Daniel Sepulveda, and what’s not to like about a punter who’s as comfortable laying out a punt returner as he is booming the punt.

Interestingly, the ROBO-punter tried out a new job on Friday night — kickoff specialist. It will be very interesting to see how that works out, but if Sepulveda can fill that role, it might be just as valuable as seeing him show continued steady improvement as a punter.

Jeff Reed, the Steelers’ crazy but extremely accurate kicker, has mastered the swirling winds of Heinz Field. What he can’t do is consistently pin returners back with his kick offs. In the past, that’s left the Steelers with no good options. Pittsburgh doesn’t want to spend a roster spot on a kickoff specialist, and it values Reed’s accuracy too much to let him go. So Pittsburgh has lived with short kickoffs, which is one of the reasons Pittsburgh allowed a shocking four kick returns for touchdowns last year.

On Friday night, Sepulveda was booming his kickoffs. According to Steelers.com, Sepulveda’s showed hang-times of 4.07, 3.93, 3.87 and 3.70 on his kickoffs (solid times all).

“I liked it,” said Tomlin. “Daniel Sepulveda might provide us with a legitimate options there. I liked his placement of the ball, I liked his hang time. He’s worked a lot at it. He didn’t have any exposure in that area prior to getting here. That just speaks to what he is – he’s always willing to do whatever for us.”

If Sepulveda can kickoff, it could give the Steelers’ a stronger leg booming the kickoffs without wasting another roster spot. And it wouldn’t hurt that the Steelers’ punter is more comfortable tackling returners than Reed.

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  • Duncan

    I like the option, as long as Sepulveda doesn't think he can hit like that at this level. The hang times are the most important part, IMO.

  • Randy Steele

    I spent much of last season boring everyone at my local Steelers' bar with the opinion that if the Steelers had signed a kick-off specialist who could regularly boot the ball into the endzone, they'd be a playoff team.

    I mean, why not? Who were they saving that roster spot for? Kraig Urbek? Gimme a break.

    And while it's good to know Sepulveda has been doing well with this particular task, I'll remain unconvinced until we see him regularly dumping the ball for touchbacks. His leg strength has proved surprisingly disappointing.

    I hope I'm wrong about him and that he succeeds, but I will once again plead with anyone who will listen that the Steelers should sign a kick-off specialist who put the ball out of play.

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