Steelers with another full day of work

Call Jordan Berry "Mate," but not "MVP"; Markus Wheaton practiced again, and AB's open again; and two youngsters stepped up to take some valuable reps on Thursday

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers call their Australian-born punter "Mate."

And Jordan Berry's fine with it.

"I was 'McDundee' in college, so it's better than that I guess," Berry said with a laugh.

You know what else makes the Steelers punter laugh?

Call him the MVP of Sunday's win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

"We were able as a whole punt unit to get some net yardage and pin them deep and get that advantage," Berry said. "That was a pretty good advantage. But, yeah, being MVP I think is a bit of a stretch."

It really isn't. Against the Bengals Berry landed five punts inside the 20, and even with that he still finished with an outstanding net average of 42.3 yards.

His work brought unsolicited praise from the head coach at his Tuesday press conference.

"Our punting was excellent," said Mike Tomlin. "I thought field position was a legitimate edge in the game for us. Jordan Berry and that punt group did an awesome job of largely making Cincinnati work on the long field for the majority of the day, particularly in the second quarter. In one instance, we held them, backed them up, forced them to punt, and we were able to get a field goal out of it without even getting a first down. Not too often does that happen."

Berry punted to the Cincinnati 5 and a penalty put the Bengals at the 3. They punted out to their own 36, the Steelers gained six yards and Chris Boswell kicked a 49-yard field goal for a 10-3 lead.

In those weather conditions, every point mattered.

"I don't feel it was too much different than what I was doing last year," Berry said. "Just pooch punting, and that was one area I was real strong at last year. It was good to get out there in those conditions and execute properly."


Left guard Ramon Foster was limited Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's practice ("just coach giving me a day") but said "I'm playing. Can't miss this. Got a chance to go 3-0? I'm in."

In his place working with the first team for the first time since joining the Steelers in 2015 was B.J. Finney, the undrafted first-year player out of Kansas State. Finney spent last year on the practice squad before making the roster this season.

"They're giving me reps in the game plan in case something happens," said Finney. "Just keeping me involved, and from that aspect I was happy to get in and get some reps and know the game plan, get a better understanding of it. It's different when you don't get any reps than when you do, so it felt good because the coach felt good putting me in there and that's ultimately what matters."

Also confirming he received legitimate reps for the first time, albeit with the second team, was rookie outside linebacker Travis Feeney, who's still on the practice squad. But the coaches wanted to give the four rostered OLBs a break and moved Feeney over from the scout team.

"I was sidelined a lot at camp, but I'm back now," said Feeney. "I feel great."


Markus Wheaton practiced for the second day after missing the last three weeks with a shoulder injury. "Everything's great," Wheaton said. "I'm very excited."

But it doesn't sound -- according to offensive coordinator Todd Haley -- like Wheaton will resume taking all, or even a majority, of the snaps opposite Antonio Brown.

"We will have a little something for all of them," Haley said. "As soon as one of them stands head and shoulders above the rest, they will be out there more."

The only players to miss practice were reserve quarterback Landry Jones (back) and backup guard-center Cody Wallace (knee).

Chris Hubbard returned to practice after the birth of he and his wife's first child, a son they named Creed.


Brown let it be known that he wanted the ball more often last Sunday. He was targeted 11 times and caught four passes a game after being targeted the same amount of times but catching eight.

Said Ben Roethlisberger on Wednesday: "I’ve been in the league long enough to know every single receiver is open on every single play."

Haley was asked about it Thursday.

"I learned a lot about that coaching wide receivers for 8-9 years in the league," Haley said. "The good ones usually want the ball every time, and they are always open. AB is highly, highly competitive. But there are going to be some games where some of the coverages and things we see being played against him, or we have to use him to our advantages in other areas. That’s why I think it was critical that you saw the other guys, whether it was Sammie CoatesXavier Grimble or Jesse James -- and Eli Rogers had a big third-down catch early -- but those guys are going to have to make plays in some of those situations because it’s not going to change with AB. He is going to get a lot of attention. What I keep telling AB is he ought to be rooting for those guys, and really our whole group, because to be as good as we want to be, it’s an entire group that has to put the group first. And AB does a very good job of that."


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