Fear Paul Ernster

Written by Dan Gigler on .

Ed Bouchette from Latrobe today:

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until Friday night to see the Steelers’ new weapon unveiled – their punter. This is the biggest thing since they used two draft picks to select punter Daniel Sepulveda in 2007.

Everyone knows that punters and kickers, after the quarterback, affect the game like no other player on the field. That’s why so many of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, no?

Take last season, for example. Sepulveda ranked fifth in the AFC with a net average of 37.9. Ranked No. 13 was Todd Sauerbrun of Denver at 36.1. That’s clearly a major difference at 1.8 yards per punt. Why, with an average of four punts a game, that’s almost eight yards or nearly one holding call.

Hey, it adds up.

Friday night, one Paul Ernster will punt for the Steelers. He punted so poorly for Cleveland and Denver last year that he was only allowed to punt five times. And his net on those was terrible at 35.6. Why, that would come to slightly more than eight yards a game difference than Sepulveda.

Clearly, the Steelers cannot contend with someone such as Ernster punting. On the other hand, they did acquire Eddie Drummond after releasing Allen Rossum because he did little for them as a return man last year. Rossum averaged 6.4 yards per punt return and Drummond averaged 6.9, clearly a huge upgrade in the Steelers return game for this season.

Or, does anyone think all this stuff may just be slightly overrated?

Ernster, by the way, should get a chance to kick off Monday night. He does that too and if he does it better than Jeff Reed, does that add to his value?

Not the Steelers new punter. Or kicker


Linebacker James Farrior will wear the helmet with the one-way radio receiver in it when the regular season begins. But not on Friday. Instead, linebacker Keyaron Fox will wear it.

Fox signed as an unrestricted free agent from Kansas City this year, primarly to bolster their special teams. But he’ll be on the field more as a backup inside linebacker Friday against the Eagles than will Farrior, who will play one or two series with the first-team defense.

The helmet was provided for the defense in a vote by the NFL owners in March, many believe in response to the New England Patriots’ illegal taping of defensive signals. With the helmet, coaches on the sideline don’t have to use their hands to signal their players on defense, they can merely call the player on their headset, much the way the offense has done through the quarterback for years.

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