The Pittsburgh Steelers entered training camp with a punter battle on their hands when a long snapper skirmish broke out. When all was said and done, they came away with new starters at both positions. That is a much bigger deal for kicker Chris Boswell than it is for either Pressley Harvin III, their rookie punter, or Christian Kuntz, the new long snapper.
In reality, a change at one specialist position isn’t a lot different from a change in two, because both result in a disruption to the entire process, which naturally applies more to the field goal unit than it does for the punting game.
Whether Kameron Canaday stuck at long snapper or Jordan Berry persevered at punter, the punter-snapper exchange was going to have to be recalibrated either way, and there’s only one way to get that particular job done, as Kuntz explained last week.
“Just the reps, just keep getting reps”, he told reporters of what it will take to build the necessary rhythm with Harvin as long snapper. “Like today, grabbing Pressley on the side, working the holds, working the snaps, him seeing my rhythm, my motion of snap, the ball flight, the rotation, everything. Just reps. Reps after reps”.
It’s good to hear that the two are on the same page and putting in some extra work, though of course both understand that it is in their best interests to do so; for Kuntz more so, however, because while Canaday is still out there, Berry has already found a job with another team, so the Steelers can’t just go back to him like they did last year.
Of course, the Steelers would not have made these moves if they were not satisfied with what they’ve seen, and it is worth noting that Harvin worked a lot more, so it appeared, with Kuntz than he did with Canaday; likewise, Berry seemed to work a lot more with Canaday than he did with Kuntz.
It’s almost enough to make one wonder if it was a package deal. Would they have stuck with Canaday had Berry edged out the rookie punter? Did Harvin help Kuntz win the long snapper job by winning his own competition? Perhaps, as a tiebreaker, provided that the two races were close, and they did appear to be.
But Canaday and Berry are now gone, after five and six seasons, respectively, while Kuntz and Harvin are just beginning this chapter of their NFL careers. Harvin is a rookie, though Kuntz has been in training camps for years without having ever made a roster before.
Special teams coordinator Danny Smith previously said that the holding aspect would be a non-issue in deciding who wins the punter job because Boswell was working equally well with both. The coaches feel confident that this new pair will work. But now they must go out there and prove the confidence is justified.