The automatic assumption whenever a team drafts a specialist is that he is going to be that team’s new starter in that role for a long period of time. At least, that is the intention basically any time you actually use a draft resource to acquire one, when most starters enter the league as college free agents and often have already been cut once or twice.
Pressley Harvin III has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ presumptive new punter since the second that they drafted him in the seventh round back in May. But incumbent starter Jordan Berry is not going down without a fight. Each has had the opportunity to handle all punts for one preseason game, and both of them did quite well. But that’s more significant for the rookie than it is for the established veteran, and he intends to build on that.
“The biggest thing is just, I’d like to say, the confidence is what I continue to try to bring over”, Harvin told reporters on Sunday about what he took away from his performance in the first preseason game, during which he landed three out of four punts inside the 10, and the other was muffed for a recovered fumble.
“Playing in college is one level, but being in here and being on this type of level is completely different”, the rookie acknowledged. “But when you have a level head on your shoulders and you continue to just tell yourself you’re good, I go through the same process in my head of what we’re doing every punt”.
“I just focus in a lot on myself and certain steps that I have to take on the field”, he added. “The biggest thing is having that confidence and continuing to tell yourself, over and over, repeat those good plays in your head, like, ‘I’ve got to have this ball, I’ve got to have this ball, I’ve got to put it there’, and just continuing that way”.
Harvin’s college tape shows all of the skills that you would want out of a punter, which is, of course, why the Steelers actually used a draft pick on him. The outstanding question is whether or not he can put all of those skills together and display them on a consistent basis.
While consistency had never been his strong suit, that is what Berry has been offering so far in training camp, and during his action in the Steelers’ second preseason game. Harvin is confident following his good performance, but Berry is making sure that he earns it, if the rookie does indeed win the job.