Since coming out of Georgia Tech, the knock on rookie Pressley Harvin III was his consistency. Which is what matters most to stick as a NFL specialist. Everyone who makes to to this level has a big leg, has talent, has the ability. It’s the ones who can showcase the talent repeatedly that actually make it in the league. And Mike Tomlin knows Harvin needs to improve there.
Recapping the Steelers’ bumpy special teams performance last night, Tomlin told reporters Harvin has to show his talent each and every time.
“In terms of punting, he needs to be a little bit more consistent,” he said during his weekly Tuesday presser. “He doesn’t have an opportunity to warm up to it from time to time. And so that’s just a lesson that needs to be learned. We’re doing some things from a practice standpoint to aid him in that.”
Harvin had a pair of JV kicks in last night’s narrow win over the Chicago Bears. Though the goal was likely to keep the ball away from dynamic returner Jakeem Grant, Harvin had a 32-yarder that gave Chicago great field position, followed up by a 41-yarder that had the benefit of a friendly roll.
Inconsistency was something we heavily noted in our pre-draft scouting report. Here’s what he wrote:
“The biggest issue with his game is inconsistency. Lot of great punts. Also a lot of shanks. In this first clip against Clemson, he had just 3.27 seconds of hangtime on a 36-yard punt. In the second against Georgia, this one goes 3.36 seconds and just 36 yards…If a coach can focus on his consistency (I’m not smart enough to break down the exact, technical details that are causing some of that), then I think Harvin can be a pretty good punter.”
For the season, Harvin is averaging 43.9 yards per punt, ranking just 26th in the league. His net average of 40.3 yards is only slightly better. Special teams coordinator Danny Smith has preached patience with Harvin, though the margin for error for specialists in the league, even rookies, is thin.
Harvin has helped make up for some of his punting with excellent, clutch holds. Three of them last night, two from 50+, and the third being Boswell’s game-winning, 40-yard boot. Harvin was only a part-time holder and has had to hone his craft, something Tomlin gave him plenty of credit for.
“Largely, I’ve been pleased with his performance. And I say that because initially, your knee-jerk reaction is to think about his performance as a punter. But he’s also a holder. And this guy has been in some really big moments for a young guy from a holding perspective on some 50-plus yard kicks and game winners. Our operation there has been flawless. Boz has a great deal of confidence in the snap, hold, and kick component of what it is that we do and he’s to be acknowledged for that.”
Despite a new long snapper and punter/holder, there’s been no issues with Boswell or the kicking game. Harvin has done well to adjust any slightly incorrect snaps, ones that are high or with the laces facing the wrong direction. There is an art to the hold and an art to the field goal; as Tomlin said, it’s an operation, and Harvin is doing well. If he can become as good of a punter as he is a holder, he’ll be in the NFL for a long time.