Despite all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the man, the myth, the legend that is rookie seventh-round punter Pressley Harvin III this summer throughout training camp and preseason, at least one prominent member of the media covering the Pittsburgh Steelers believes that PH3 hasn’t done enough to unseat incumbent punter Jordan Berry prior to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. cutdown deadline to solidify the 53-man roster.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac wrote Saturday morning that Harvin, the Ray Guy Award winner at Georgia Tech as the nation’s best punter, has only shown out in training camp and has done very little — in terms of performance — in actual preseason games, whereas Berry has had a strong all-around training camp and preseason, stating his case to stick around for a seventh season in Pittsburgh.
“The only two position battles remaining are on special teams, and one of the decisions should be easy,” Dulac writes. “Berry, whom the Steelers always seem eager to displace, has outperformed Harvin, their seventh-round draft choice, and should make the 53-man roster. However, that doesn’t mean he will. Harvin has been mostly inconsistent in the preseason, delivering few of the booming punts for which he was known at Georgia Tech. Against Carolina, with several long fields, he averaged just 42.3 yards on four punts. Berry averaged 43.8 yards on four punts against the Panthers but delivered a 55-yarder on the first possession from his own 30.”
Berry was certainly better Friday night at Bank of America Stadium, wavering 43.8 yards per punt, but a lot of that was inflated due to the 55-yard punt he opened the game with. After that, Berry recorded punts of 34 yards (downed inside the 20), 39 yards and 47 yards. The 39-yard punt was disastrous from Berry, since the Steelers were punting from their own 34-yard line. The short punt gave the Panthers good field position.
As for Harvin, the rookie recorded punts of 48 yards, 34 yards (downed inside the 20), 42 yards and 45 yards, which is a littler closer to consistent than what he’s getting credit for. In fact, Harvin recorded averages of 45.8, 50.0, and 42.3 yards per punt against the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers in three preseason games. He was arguably the player of the game against the Cowboys, dropping three of his four punts inside the 20-yard line in the Hall of Fame Game.
Berry certainly had a good summer with the Steelers, recording averages of 44.0 and 43.8 against the Philadelphia Eagles and Panthers.
Our own Alex Kozora definitely saw it as a battle all summer long and was right on the money when it came to the punter position once again, and for what it’s worth recorded the punting stats from training camp. Here they are: Jordan Berry: 4.37 seconds, 48.3 yards; Pressley Harvin III: 4.50 seconds, 48.6 yards. Additionally, Harvin recorded the five longest punts of training camp with distances of 64, 63, 60, 60, and 60, and also recorded a Steelers Depot camp record hang-time punt of 5.23 seconds.
For what it’s worth, I do think it will be a very difficult decision for Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and Danny Smith, considering how well Berry has performed this summer, but in the end I do believe it will be Pressley Harvin III opening the year as the Steelers’ punter in Buffalo, allowing the Steelers to really develop a big-legged punter with pedigree like Harvin.