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Steelers Punting Unit One of Few ‘Not Up to Snuff’ So Far

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It’s hard to find a fault in the way the Pittsburgh Steelers have started their 2020 season.

The team has five straight victories to start the year, overcoming an unexpected early-season bye and change in scheduled and have won with a dominant defense and an offense that has made excellent use of new weapons Chase Claypool and Eric Ebron while also showing a balance that it has lacked in recent years.

You really have to nit-pick to find something the Steelers have performed poorly at, but there is one area, and head coach Mike Tomlin said the team is going to do whatever it takes to fix it.

Through six weeks, the Steelers as a team are dead last in the NFL in net punting average at 37.1 yards per kick.

Of course, net punting is a team statistic that includes the talents of both punter Dustin Colquitt and the coverage team, but on a gross punting basis, Colquitt hasn’t done much better. His 43 yards per punt gross average is tied for 29th in the NFL.

Furthermore, he has not been the victim of a team too often punting from close to the opposite end zone. He’s had eight kicks that were either downed inside the 20-yard line or went for a touchback, which is the ninth fewest in the NFL.

Suffice to say, Colquitt has not been particularly good in his first season with the Steelers compared to the rest of the league and he’s not performed up to his usual level established throughout his career.

His career gross average is 44.8 yards per kick, and 43 represents his lowest season total since he was a rookie in 2005.

It’s also a step down from Jordan Berry’s performance in 2019. Berry averaged 45.5 yard per kick last season and has a 44.2 career average. I acknowledge that our punting is not up to snuff and that we have to get better in that area, and we are willing to do whatever is required in an effort to do so.

Pittsburgh Steelers punter Jordan Berry (4) trains at Heinz Field during the Steelers 2020 Training Camp, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers)

Berry was cut at the end of training camp and replaced by Boswell, a move that does not appear to be working out as the Steelers planned. The first step to fixing any problem is identifying it, and head coach Mike Tomlin did that on Tuesday.

“I acknowledge that our punting is not up to snuff and that we have to get better in that area, and we are willing to do whatever is required in an effort to do so,” Tomlin said on Tuesday, while declining to address his opinion of the specific reasons for the issues. But suffice to say, if Tomlin thought the numbers were a product of where the Steelers punting from or shoddy coverage, he likely would have said so.

The team also hosted Berry for a visit as a free agent this week — a sure sign they’re not happy. They have also kept rookie free agent Corliss Waitman on their practice squad all season.

“We’ve got a number of guys in the building who are new to us on special teams this year,” special teams coordinator Danny Smith said. “We’ll continue to work with the guys we have available to us to see if they can help us moving forward.”

It all adds up to it appearing that Colquitt does not have a particularly long leash, despite the team’s success so far.

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Should Steelers Sign Zach Banner to be Starter in 2021?

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Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault.

He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. With Banner expected to be ready for a return next season, should the Steelers sign the 27-year-old with the anticipation that he could be a key piece to bolster the offensive line that was missing during the 2020 season?

Do you believe in Zach Banner? Comment below with why or why not.

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Steelers

Zach Banner Announces Self-imposed Social Media Ban Until he Signs New Deal

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Zach Banner is sending a clear message about his priorities ahead of the 2021 NFL season. Banner, who is a free agent and looking for a new deal with the Steelers, tweeted that he is going to stay off social media until he officially signs on the dotted line.

Zach Banner has become a prominent member of the Steelers, but that’s not because he’s had success on the field over the past year. Banner’s success has come off the field by connecting with fans on social media and doing his part to help those in need than he has on a football field. But by no means is that Banner’s fault. He suffered a season ending torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season. This injury was especially devastating for the USC product because it occurred on the heels of Banner winning the starting right tackle position following a tough training camp battle with Chukwuma Okorafor.

Due to Banner’s injury, it was Okorafor who ended up starting 16 games, including the postseason. While Banner kept in good spirits and became his team’s loudest cheerleader on Twitter during games, it was clear he wanted to be on the field and contributing.

Earning a starting spot as a member of the Steelers offensive line was a major career achievement for Banner, but it was one he didn’t get to enjoy. Banner now hopes to return to Pittsburgh and be the missing piece the Steelers offensive line desperately needs.

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Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp

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There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.

“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”

Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.

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