This is the first in a series of articles exploring each position and the battles going on in Pittsburgh Steelers training camp at Latrobe, PA. Today we look at special teams.
The Steelers are thrilled to have punter Daniel Sepulveda, who missed all of last season with an injury, back in the fold.
The battle for field position is often overlooked in the grand scheme of football, but it's an essential element to success. Sepulveda brings that to the Steelers in spades.
He's been booming the ball in camp, hitting in the 50-55 yard range consistently. His longest so far has been 68 yards.
The Steelers released Dirk Johnson after OTAs, so the job is Sepulveda's, lock, stock, and barrel. Look for the Baylor product to have a chance at All-Pro honors this season.
Piotr Czech was brought in as a camp leg and will probably be gone in the first cut. Jeff Reed begins his eighth season in Pittsburgh and his leg shows no signs of getting weaker.
Reed is almost a lock from 45 yards in and he still has the range to hit from beyond 50. He likes to lift and keeps himself in good shape. The job is his for as long as he wants it.
There is some heated competition for this spot.
Head coach Mike Tomlin wants to take Santonio Holmes off punt return duties after he emerged in 2008 as a legitimate No. 2 receiver.
The Steelers are looking at as many as five guys to take over.
That list includes RB Mewelde Moore, WR Shaun McDonald, WR Brandon Williams, CB Joe Burnett, and RB Stefan Logan.
Moore and McDonald have NFL experience returning punts, while the rookie Burnett has looked the best so far in camp.
Keep an eye on Logan, though.
The former CFL standout doesn't have much size, but he's stocky and versatile. Logan has been used at RB, WR, and on special teams in camp. It's that versatility that could land him a roster spot.
Not as much drama here as in punt returns, but there's competition nonetheless.
Pittsburgh has used three guys in camp and the winner will emerge between Moore, Logan, and rookie WR Mike Wallace.
Wallace is the fastest of the group, but Moore is the most experienced.
It's still too early to get a handle on who'll emerge as the leader simply because the Steelers have practiced kick returns only sporadically. My hunch is Wallace gets it.
Long Snapper & Holder
Greg Warren begins his fifth year as Pittsburgh's long snapper, while Daniel Sepulveda will be Reed's holder.
The rest of the special teams unit will be decided during the good, old dog days of summer. It'll be fun to see how the roster shakes out in the coming weeks.
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