Yes, you read that right. I’m breaking down the battle between punters Adam Podlesh and Brad Wing. If you know anything about me then you know how serious I am about special teams.
You also know how below average the Pittsburgh Steelers have been in this department in recent seasons.
Punting has been one of the most glaring problems for the Steelers for some time now as they cannot find stability at the position. A great NFL punter is one that can boom the 65-yarder when needed and can also drop his kicks inside the ten-yard line too.
This offseason, the Steelers signed Brad Wing and Adam Podlesh both in free agency. The bios of the two punters couldn’t be more different.
Wing is from Melbourne, Australia and stands 6’3″ tall. He has never punted in the NFL. Podlesh is from Rochester, New York, stands 5’11” and has 467 career punts.
Because Wing made some poor choices coming out of LSU where he was an All-American, he went undrafted and did not play in 2013. He averaged over 44 yards per kick while punting for the Tigers in both 2011 and 2012.
In 68 punts last season for Chicago, Podlesh had 27 inside the 20 yard line but the more impressive number was the fact that only 15 returns were attempted on his punts. The fewer returns given up in the punting game the fewer TDs and big returns you give up.
Essentially what this battle will be is one where strength and distance goes up against hang time and accuracy. In the past, the Steelers seemed to like experience and maturity at this position but they bucked that trend when rookie Drew Butler won the job in 2012.
I feel like Podlesh has a major advantage heading into camp because of that experience but also because this team has struggled in recent years to cover punts. I won’t be a bit surprised to see Wing push Podlesh because the kid is talented and very athletic for a punter. In the end though, I expect Podlesh to earn the roster spot.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.