Sepulveda on record pace

In a controversial move last April, the Steelers traded up in the fourth round to draft a punter. But Dan Sepulveda is proving the Steelers wise with his positional kicking.

PITTSBURGH – Dan Sepulveda's punting averages, per game, had been in decline and on Monday night hit rock bottom.

From a high of 51.4 per punt in Arizona, followed by a 47.0 average against Seattle, Sepulveda's numbers crashed to 34.6 against Miami.

Sepulveda, the rookie, took the bait.

"The situations didn't dictate long punts," he argued. "I was happy with it. Five out of five inside the 20? I went out there and did my job. The numbers are going to be what they are."

Of course they are.

Sepulveda is averaging 42.8 yards gross per punt. That's up from last season when Chris Gardocki averaged 41.3. But as Sepulveda is quick to point out, gross average means little. It's all about field position in the NFL and every one of Sepulveda's five punts Monday night was downed inside the Miami 15-yard line.

Was it a perfect game?

"I was trying to aim at the 10 and I think we hit the 14 on the first one," Sepulveda said. "But in those conditions you can't complain. Getting a fair catch inside the 20, I'll take it."

Sepulveda's five punts were downed at the 14, 10, 11, 6, and 10.

The field, of course, helped. Twice the muck sucked up Dolphins punts.

"Right," he said, "which, looking back, when the field's like that you might think about hitting it a little farther, maybe having it land inside the five knowing it's not going to go anywhere when it hits."

How would Sepulveda evaluate his year so far?

"I've always been pretty hard on myself," he said, "and this year – you know, processing a whole lot of change, moving 1300 miles from home, dealing with all the things off the field at the same time as this being your rookie year in the NFL -- I haven't performed, to this point, up to my own expectations. But I'm doing a lot of things better, gotten a lot more comfortable being back there. I'll use this year to build on and improve, but I haven't performed up to my own expectations.

"It's been good," he added. "I think our net is 37.6. It's right at 38, which was our goal for the year. So if we can finish strongly these last five games through the regular season I think it'll be a good year for me."

Sepulveda has a solid grasp of the stats. The Steelers indeed possess a net punting average of 37.6. That's the total distance after the punt return.

Since records were kept in 1981, only one Steelers punt unit – Josh Miller's in 1999 – has done better. The Steelers' net average in 1999 was 38.1, or within striking distance of this year's punt unit.

Sepulveda is in the hunt for two other team records. He's had 24 punts downed inside the 20 with only two touchbacks. That puts him on pace for 34.9 I20s and 2.9 TBs. Since records were kept in 1976, the Mark Royals-led punt unit downed 35 punts inside the 20 in 1994, and the 1993 (Royals) and 1991 (Dan Stryzinski) Steelers punted only three times into the end zone.

But what about the booming leg? After all, that's the reason the Steelers traded up for Sepulveda in the fourth round last April.

"My leg really feels pretty good," he said. "The practice regimen Coach (Bob) Lig(ashesky) has us working on is not too taxing. It's easier to punt than it is to kick. When you kick too much you get a little tired more quickly because you're using the smaller muscles on the inside of your leg. When you punt, it's straight on. You're using the quad, which is the big muscle and it's right up the top.

"My leg feels good. I'll hit some boomers and bring those numbers up a little bit before the season's over."

NOTES – Tight end Jon Dekker was promoted to the Steelers' roster to replace fullback Dan Kreider, who tore an ACL Monday night against Miami and was placed on injured reserve. … Missing practice Thursday were WR Santonio Holmes (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (knee) and LT Marvel Smith (back). Of the three, Smith has the best chance of playing Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. Missing practice Thursday for the Bengals were RT Willie Anderson (knee) and WR Chad Johnson (knee).


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nPITTSBURGH – Dan Sepulveda's punting averages, per game, had been in decline and on Monday night hit rock bottom.\r\n\r\n

From a high of 51.4 per punt in Arizona, followed by a 47.0 average against Seattle, Sepulveda's numbers crashed to 34.6 against Miami.\r\n\r\n

Sepulveda, the rookie, took the bait.\r\n\r\n

\"The situations didn't dictate long punts,\" he argued. \"I was happy with it. Five out of five inside the 20? I went out there and did my job. The numbers are going to be what they are.\"\r\n\r\n

Of course they are.\r\n\r\n

Sepulveda is averaging 42.8 yards gross per punt. That's up from last season when Chris Gardocki averaged 41.3. But as Sepulveda is quick to point out, gross average means little. It's all about field position in the NFL and every one of Sepulveda's five punts Monday night was downed inside the Miami 15-yard line.\r\n\r\n

Was it a perfect game?\r\n\r\n

\"I was trying to aim at the 10 and I think we hit the 14 on the first one,\" Sepulveda said. \"But in those conditions you can't complain. Getting a fair catch inside the 20, I'll take it.\"\r\n\r\n

Sepulveda's five punts were downed at the 14, 10, 11, 6, and 10.\r\n\r\n

The field, of course, helped. Twice the muck sucked up Dolphins punts.\r\n\r\n

\"Right,\" he said, \"which, looking back, when the field's like that you might think about hitting it a little farther, maybe having it land inside the five knowing it's not going to go anywhere when it hits.\"\r\n\r\n

How would Sepulveda evaluate his year so far?\r\n\r\n

\"I've always been pretty hard on myself,\" he said, \"and this year – you know, processing a whole lot of change, moving 1300 miles from home, dealing with all the things off the field at the same time as this being your rookie year in the NFL -- I haven't performed, to this point, up to my own expectations. But I'm doing a lot of things better, gotten a lot more comfortable being back there. I'll use this year to build on and improve, but I haven't performed up to my own expectations.\r\n\r\n

\"It's been good,\" he added. \"I think our net is 37.6. It's right at 38, which was our goal for the year. So if we can finish strongly these last five games through the regular season I think it'll be a good year for me.\"\r\n\r\n

Sepulveda has a solid grasp of the stats. The Steelers indeed possess a net punting average of 37.6. That's the total distance after the punt return.\r\n\r\n

Since records were kept in 1981, only one Steelers punt unit – Josh Miller's in 1999 – has done better. The Steelers' net average in 1999 was 38.1, or within striking distance of this year's punt unit.\r\n\r\n

Sepulveda is in the hunt for two other team records. He's had 24 punts downed inside the 20 with only two touchbacks. That puts him on pace for 34.9 I20s and 2.9 TBs.\r\n\r\nSince records were kept in 1976, the Mark Royals-led punt unit downed 35 punts inside the 20 in 1994, and the 1993 (Royals) and 1991 (Dan Stryzinski) Steelers punted only three times into the end zone.\r\n\r\n

But what about the booming leg? After all, that's the reason the Steelers traded up for Sepulveda in the fourth round last April.\r\n\r\n

\"My leg really feels pretty good,\" he said. \"The practice regimen Coach (Bob) Lig(ashesky) has us working on is not too taxing. It's easier to punt than it is to kick. When you kick too much you get a little tired more quickly because you're using the smaller muscles on the inside of your leg. When you punt, it's straight on. You're using the quad, which is the big muscle and it's right up the top.\r\n\r\n

\"My leg feels good. I'll hit some boomers and bring those numbers up a little bit before the season's over.\"\r\n\r\n

NOTES – Tight end Jon Dekker was promoted to the Steelers' roster to replace fullback Dan Kreider, who tore an ACL Monday night against Miami and was placed on injured reserve. … Missing practice Thursday were WR Santonio Holmes (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (knee) and LT Marvel Smith (back). Of the three, Smith has the best chance of playing Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. Missing practice Thursday for the Bengals were RT Willie Anderson (knee) and WR Chad Johnson (knee).","mobileBody":" PITTSBURGH – Dan Sepulveda's punting averages, per game, had been in decline and on Monday night hit rock bottom.

From a high of 51.4 per punt in Arizona, followed by a 47.0 average against Seattle, Sepulveda's numbers crashed to 34.6 against Miami.

Sepulveda, the rookie, took the bait.

\"The situations didn't dictate long punts,\" he argued. \"I was happy with it. Five out of five inside the 20? I went out there and did my job. The numbers are going to be what they are.\"

Of course they are.

Sepulveda is averaging 42.8 yards gross per punt. That's up from last season when Chris Gardocki averaged 41.3. But as Sepulveda is quick to point out, gross average means little. It's all about field position in the NFL and every one of Sepulveda's five punts Monday night was downed inside the Miami 15-yard line.

Was it a perfect game?

\"I was trying to aim at the 10 and I think we hit the 14 on the first one,\" Sepulveda said. \"But in those conditions you can't complain. Getting a fair catch inside the 20, I'll take it.\"

Sepulveda's five punts were downed at the 14, 10, 11, 6, and 10.

The field, of course, helped. Twice the muck sucked up Dolphins punts.

\"Right,\" he said, \"which, looking back, when the field's like that you might think about hitting it a little farther, maybe having it land inside the five knowing it's not going to go anywhere when it hits.\"

How would Sepulveda evaluate his year so far?

\"I've always been pretty hard on myself,\" he said, \"and this year – you know, processing a whole lot of change, moving 1300 miles from home, dealing with all the things off the field at the same time as this being your rookie year in the NFL -- I haven't performed, to this point, up to my own expectations. But I'm doing a lot of things better, gotten a lot more comfortable being back there. I'll use this year to build on and improve, but I haven't performed up to my own expectations.

\"It's been good,\" he added. \"I think our net is 37.6. It's right at 38, which was our goal for the year. So if we can finish strongly these last five games through the regular season I think it'll be a good year for me.\"

Sepulveda has a solid grasp of the stats. The Steelers indeed possess a net punting average of 37.6. That's the total distance after the punt return.

Since records were kept in 1981, only one Steelers punt unit – Josh Miller's in 1999 – has done better. The Steelers' net average in 1999 was 38.1, or within striking distance of this year's punt unit.

Sepulveda is in the hunt for two other team records. He's had 24 punts downed inside the 20 with only two touchbacks. That puts him on pace for 34.9 I20s and 2.9 TBs. Since records were kept in 1976, the Mark Royals-led punt unit downed 35 punts inside the 20 in 1994, and the 1993 (Royals) and 1991 (Dan Stryzinski) Steelers punted only three times into the end zone.

But what about the booming leg? After all, that's the reason the Steelers traded up for Sepulveda in the fourth round last April.

\"My leg really feels pretty good,\" he said. \"The practice regimen Coach (Bob) Lig(ashesky) has us working on is not too taxing. It's easier to punt than it is to kick. When you kick too much you get a little tired more quickly because you're using the smaller muscles on the inside of your leg. When you punt, it's straight on. You're using the quad, which is the big muscle and it's right up the top.

\"My leg feels good. I'll hit some boomers and bring those numbers up a little bit before the season's over.\"

NOTES – Tight end Jon Dekker was promoted to the Steelers' roster to replace fullback Dan Kreider, who tore an ACL Monday night against Miami and was placed on injured reserve. … Missing practice Thursday were WR Santonio Holmes (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (knee) and LT Marvel Smith (back). Of the three, Smith has the best chance of playing Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. 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