With training camp just around the corner, it’s time to turn our focus on what is going on within each position, and on the roster as a whole. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be taking a closer look at some of the roster battles that we expect to see unfold over the course of training camp as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the start of the 2021 season.
Unlike last season, which was carried out through a pandemic, things should return much to normal this year, which should help provide us with clearer insights into where people stand. The return of the preseason in particular is a crucial window into operations that we lacked a year ago.
Up for Grabs: Starting Job
In the Mix: Pressley Harvin III, Jordan Berry
We should probably get the last obvious starting competition out of the way before we get much further, as this can be nothing but. Either Jordan Berry retains his position and enters his sixth season with the Steelers, or the rookie seventh-round pick, Pressley Harvin III, will supplant him.
The Steelers, it would seem, have had somewhat mixed feelings about Berry for years, who hasn’t seemed to significantly progress over the course of his career. His best numbers continue to hover in the middling range when compared to other punters of this era.
It’s the reason that they decided they could do better at the start of last season. In a somewhat surprising move, the team released him, and would several days later then find his replacement in Dustin Colquitt, a longtime veteran punter and a former Pro Bowler, whose father punted for the Steelers during their ’78 and ’79 championship seasons (and seven years in total).
His son, however, only lasted five games in 2020 before being let go. At 38 and in his 16th season, it was clear that he was nearing the end of his career, and, still unsigned, perhaps he has played his last down in the NFL already.
It has yet to be seen, though, if Harvin will play a first. A drafted specialist will typically make the team, but that’s not always the case (insert obligatory Colin Holba reference here). Most specialists, it seems, don’t actually end up working out with the first team they sign with.
But Pittsburgh was interested in Harvin because of his unique size for the position. Basically a linebacker in proportion, he would have to fight with his coaches in high school and college to remain a punter when they wanted to move him, understanding that this was the right role for him.
Will his gambit pay off? It was enough to get him a foot in the door, as well as a nice little signing bonus, but the real money is in sticking in the league. He has a big leg, and there is some nuance to be seen in his game, but will he be NFL-ready from the word go, enough to satisfy a team that, rightly or wrongly, has championship aspirations?