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.