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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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Ben Roethlisberger Doesn’t Think the Steelers Are Throwing Too Much

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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger explains how he deals with the uncertainty each week during this strange 2020 season. His comments were made prior to his team’s game against Baltimore being moved from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon due to safety concerns related to COVID-19.

The veteran quarterback also responded to questions about how many pass attempts he’s had each week and if it’s a concern moving forward.

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Steelers: No Fans for Rescheduled Game vs. Ravens on Sunday

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There will be no fans in attendance when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in their rescheduled game at Heinz Field this Sunday, the team announced on Wednesday afternoon.

The team had expected to host 5,500 fans at the game when it was originally expected to be held on Thursday evening, but that game was supposed to be the last with with any significant complement of fans for the time being.

On Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced an amended COVID-19 mitigation protocol that reduced the capacity for outdoor venues to a maximum of 2,500. With that limit, which includes players, staff and families, the Steelers have elected to not host any additional fans through single-game ticket sales.

“We are disappointed for those fans who had planned on attending Thursday night’s game,” team spokesman Burt Lauten said in a statement. “Our ticked office will communicate soon with those fans who purchased tickets from us regarding credits and refunds.”

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Steelers, Ravens to Kick Off at 1:15 p.m. Sunday on NBC

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The Steelers re-scheduled game with the Baltimore Ravens will kick off at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday and be broadcast nationally on NBC.

The slightly unusual schedule time will allow the game to still be broadcast nationally on NBC during the early afternoon broadcast window, so out-of-town Steelers fans will still be able to tune in.

The Steelers were originally scheduled to be broadcast on NBC on Thanksgiving, so the change will allow the network to retain the game, which is sure to be a well-viewed one with the 10-0 Steelers hosting their rivals and reigning NFL MVL Lamar Jackson.

It’s still unclear what the situation will be with fans at Heinz Field on Sunday. The Steelers had been expecting 5,500 fans for the game, but that was expected to be the last game with fans at home for the time being, as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has modified his COVID-19 mitigation plan and there is a new maximum capacity of 2,500 at the venue.

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