Today, the Steelers released punter Paul Ernster (again) and brought back punter Mitch Berger (again). Is it just me, or is this getting to be a bit redundant?
Mitch Berger beat out Ernster during training camp, but then developed gimpy hamstrings. When Mike Tomlin finally got tired of seeing Berger limp around the field, he released him and brought in Ernster. Ernster made the most of his opportunity by averaging a whopping 31.6 yards per punt. For those of you who have been living on another planet, that ain’t good.
During the Steelers’ game against the Bengals, Ernster punted 5 times for an average of 28.4 yards. His shortest punt during that game traveled only 23 yards. I’ve never even punted a ball before, and I could punt it farther than that. To put it into perspective just how bad Ernster was, the average punting distance for the top 3 finishers in the 12-13 year old girls division of the 2008 Pass, Punt, & Kick competition was 31.2 yards. That’s right, 31.2 yards. That’s almost 3 yards longer than Ernster averaged in an actual NFL game. Heck, Ernster’s average for the season was only 31.6 yards per punt. Where are the 12 year old girls when you need them?
But let’s look at the bright side (if you can call it that). Ernster only had two punts returned for a total of 4 yards during his time with the Steelers. That’s pretty good, right? Well, not really. Most of Ernster’s punts went off the side of his foot and traveled such a short distance that there were rarely opposing punt returners anywhere near the vicinity of the ball.
So the Steelers cut the punter who can’t punt it farther than adolescent girls, in favor of the punter who has 2 gimpy hamstrings. Wow, I feel more comfortable already.
What I don’t understand is how Berger ended up with 2 pulled hamstrings in the first place. After all, the average punter probably spends a total of about 48 seconds on the field during the average NFL game. So what does he do during the rest of the game? My guess would have been “stretch his hamstrings”, but Berger disproves that theory.
But at least Berger averaged a more respectable 41.9 yards per punt this season. That’s more than 10 yards better than Ernster. He’s got my vote already.
For those of you who are wondering, Berger’s punting average would have earned him 2nd place in the 14-15 year old girls Pass, Punt & Kick division. Believe it or not Steelers fans, that is a step in the right direction.
Please get well soon Dan Sepulveda. Otherwise, the Steelers may have to start scouting 12 year old girls.
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