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Exclusive with Steelers Punter Ian Berryman

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Ron Lippock spoke with Steelers punter Ian Berryman about the transition from college to the NFL and what he’s working on. 

First – how’s it going so far – how has the adjustment been going?

It’s been pretty easy so far. The main thing is the speed of the game – everyone is bigger, stronger, and faster. The biggest difference is that the long snappers – they are so much more accurate. There’s no casual stray snap like you find sometimes in college.

The guys – Chris, Jordan – they’ve been really helpful in me getting acclimated to the level.

How much do you appreciate a guy like Jordan helping you out even as you compete for his job? 

I really appreciate it. Jordan’s been great – he’s really helped show me how to be a professional player – what to expect at the pro level. He’s helped me understand what Danny Smith wants in certain situations and what happens on the field. He’s been a true professional.

Speaking of Danny Smith – he’s a character. What has it been like working with him?

Ha- Danny has been great. I really like him. He is a character but he’s great at developing us and making us play at the best of our ability. He’s an old guy – he’s been around. He knows exactly what’s going on in the game and knows how to help us out.

What do you work on most during practice  – what do you focus on?

Well, not to get too much into punter jargon, but it’s a lot about stride length. About furthering the distance between the line of scrimmage and a blocked punt – as much as possible. So if I can shorten my stride…I had a good junior year but my senior year my stride length got a little longer. Getting it back to three-and-a-half yards versus four-and-a-half is a big difference.

What do you think you do best as a punter?

Every punter has their own flair and approach. Some guys like Myers in Seattle have more flair and have a lot of clubs in their bag, while a guy like Scott in Green Bay is more traditional. I think I have a lot of clubs in my bag too. I’m a good misdirection punter. I take pride in that – making the returner move. That’s where the hidden yardage is – making the returner have to run after the ball versus being able to camp out under it. Sometimes you get that roll that raises your net yardage up.

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My directional punting is my main thing. I do take pride in kicking outside of the sidelines. I did that well in college.

What else do you focus on during down times in practice?

A lot of times I focus on my drops. Here it’s windy in Pittsburgh – I need to consistently work on my drop point and lower it when I’m going into the wind. I’ll work on that for 10 minutes into the wind then go the other direction and and work on drops with the wind at my back.

I also work on my one step punts and working on my drops each direction too.

Stepping back – why did you choose Pittsburgh as a free agent?

It’s really the only place that offered me a contract for their 90 man roster. It’s one of the best places to play and get better too. It’s a lot of fun working with Danny and great experience for me. So far I’ve loved how the organization treats people.

How is the class as a whole – any impressions of your rookie classmates?

It’s a great class. Benny is going to be a great NFL running back. There’s a lot of guys in this class that are here with the attitude that they just want to win championships. There’s not a lot of extra flair and they’ve all preformed well up to this point from I have seen and gelled.

Lastly – tell us a bit about you and what makes you tick off the field?

I like to travel. It’s my first time in Pittsburgh and I’m treating it like if I was on vacation. I like to tour a new city and meet the people there and see how accepting they are. I also like to golf, but I haven’t had a lot of time to do that here yet.

As for me – I’m a low-key kind of guy. I like to hang out and meet people. I’m not the kind of guy that tries to make headlines off the field.

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