2021 South Side Questions: Was Long Snapper Job A ‘Package Deal’ With Punter?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.

They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom look to be in a starting role (or complementary role in Freiermuth’s case) for the season opener.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. They have a 53-man roster, though it will always change to some degree. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Were the punter-long snapper jobs a package deal?

The Steelers swapped out two of their three specialists this offseason, jettisoning five- and six-year veterans Kameron Canaday and Jordan Berry at long snapper and punter, respectively. While the latter was not a surprise after drafting Pressley Harvin III, Christian Kuntz’s emergence at long snapper wasn’t really something that was anticipated until late in camp.

Outwardly, it appeared that Harvin spent the majority of his time working with Kuntz, while Berry spent the majority of his time working with Canaday, the two having been together for the past five years. It led me to wonder if, in the end, the decision came down to a package deal.

Namely, once the Steelers decided to go with Harvin over Berry, did that also help to persuade them to go with Kuntz over Canaday, given that Harvin, as a holder, was most familiar with Kuntz? Was the competition close enough to allow them to reach a decision in that way?

The Steelers may not have concerned themselves a lot with a long snapper’s ability to play on punt coverage, but they have to think about how he functions with a particular holder. It’s possible that Danny Smith felt better about Harvin catching snaps from Kuntz than he did fielding Canaday’s snaps.

I’m sure this is a question that won’t ever get answered, but I’m also sure it does have an answer. And I don’t know if I’m the only one who finds the topic interesting, but I guess we’ll find out right about now…

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