Admist a flurry of utter fails by the Steelers’ special teams last season culminating in the release of Special Teams coach Bob Ligashesky, it becomes quite easy to point the finger. Missed tackles, gaping seems, increasingly talented kick returners, and Jeff Reed playing 2-hand touch are just a few of the glaring issues plaguing this aspect of the team. Despite these problems, hope lingers. With new coach Al Everest and a few choice off-season acquisitions, special teams are looking up for the 2010 season. Yet, the hope I speak of has been here all along!
Daniel Sepulveda is a beast. Enemies fear him, grown men wither in his presence, and women fall at his feet. In fact, Crosby’s Olympic gold medal winning stick was only returned to the Penguins’ star after Canadian hockey officials publicly threatened to allow Sepulveda to investigate the matter. Unfortunately, for Sepulveda’s kunckles, the stick had only been “misplaced.” He’s basically the Chuck Norris of NFL punters. I’m talking a beast. Still don’t believe me? No problem. You don’t have to. I have a youtube vid to prove it and youtube never lies.
Taking over for seasoned veteran, Chris Girodocki (who never once had a punt blocked in his 1,177 career attempts, an NFL record), Sepulveda was a fourth round draft pick for the Steelers out of Baylor in 2007. He was originally a walk-on at Baylor as a linebacker (see also “above”) before he switched to punting. Leave it to the Steelers to draft a linebacker as your punter. Few people appreciate how important a punter is to a team, but their role as vital as close games often come down to a matter of field position. After bouncing back from an ACL injury which left him sidelined for the entire 2008 season, Sepulveda was a bright spot in an otherwise dim special teams unit during his 3rd year in the league and 2nd full season. While maybe not the longest punter in the league, he was a model of consistency which should be the true goal of any special teams player. I suspect he’ll improve even more in his 4th year with 2 seasons of experience under his belt.
And with that, welcome to the new home of Pittsburgh sports talk! Bleed Black and Gold, your Pittsburgh sports connection.