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fordfixer
09-08-2011, 01:59 AM
Comfort zone helping Steelers' Sepulveda
By Ralph N. Paulk, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, September 8, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 55618.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_755618.html)

Invariably, numbers matter when two players contend for a lone roster spot. However, the intangibles are immeasurable, especially when there's only a marginal difference.

Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda survived a strong preseason challenge from Jeremy Kapinos, in part, because of the comfort level the coaching staff has in its fifth-year veteran.

"I've heard in the past that coaches like to be comfortable with their guy," Sepulveda said. "So, it was certainly beneficial to me that Coach (Mike) Tomlin drafted me.

"I don't know what the difference was. It's not for me to concern myself with. It's something beyond my control. I didn't factor anything into that decision other than what I put out on the field."

It didn't matter that Kapinos out-performed Sepulveda mathematically during the preseason, averaging 49.8 yards per kick with a 44.6 net, compared to Sepulveda's 45.7 and net average of 36.2.

Even more impressive, Kapinos averaged 51 yards on three kicks in the Steelers' Super Bowl loss to Green Bay.

"In retrospect, it was a unique opportunity for both of us to grow the past month," Sepulveda said. "I think we challenged each other, and we both responded well.

"I saw him kick pretty well, and I felt good about my kicks. It was neat to have that kind of competitive spirit coming into camp, and I think it brought out the best in us."

It could be argued that Kapinos began training camp as the incumbent. But he faced an uphill climb to replace Sepulveda, who twice in the past three years had season-ending knee injuries.

Training camp for Kapinos became an audition for other teams, mostly because the Steelers invested heavily in Sepulveda by making him a fourth-round pick in the 2007 draft.

"I'm thankful to have been given the opportunity, especially given the fact that I tore my knee up before my senior season (at Baylor)," Sepulveda said. "Right now, I'm here to make the most of another opportunity and to show I can play in this league."

Sepulveda likely will be tested Sunday when the Steelers open the regular season against AFC North rival Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium, where he was sidelined for the season after tearing his right ACL during a 13-9 December victory that helped propel the Steelers to the division title.

"The irony isn't lost on me that my first game back is in the same place I messed my knee up," said Sepulveda, who also suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2008. "I'm excited about this game. It'll get my mind past any thoughts of holding back."

Sepulveda didn't hold back during the preseason. But his job wasn't secured until the Steelers made their final round of cuts this past Saturday following a 33-17 win at Carolina a week ago.

Clearly, Tomlin and special teams coach Al Everest are confident and comfortable with Sepulveda heading into the Steelers' showdown with the Ravens a game in which the punters can easily dictate the outcome by influencing field position.

"It's why teams value specialists," Sepulveda said. "We play in a league that, for the most part, the outcome comes down to a couple of plays. Sometimes, on special teams."

Read more: Comfort zone helping Steelers' Sepulveda - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1XKzzUqqY (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_755618.html#ixzz1XKzzUqqY)

papillon
09-08-2011, 07:03 AM
I'm not sure the Steelers kept the best punter of the two. Based on performance, Kapinos should have been the guy. The fact that Sepulveda was a pick that the Steelers made a move to get may have played a role as well as familiarity. Kapinos may be in the top 5 net punting average this year. A team is going to pick him up. I would be extremely surprised if he wasn't.

Pappy

Eich
09-08-2011, 08:17 AM
Oddly, as recent as 2009, Kapinos was considered one of the worst punters in the league while with Green Bay. Somehow, he turned it around.

I like Sepulveda but you have to wonder how long he's going to be able to stay healthy. That's a big question mark on him. Once in college and twice in the NFL?

Oviedo
09-08-2011, 08:22 AM
Oddly, as recent as 2009, Kapinos was considered one of the worst punters in the league while with Green Bay. Somehow, he turned it around.

I like Sepulveda but you have to wonder how long he's going to be able to stay healthy. That's a big question mark on him. Once in college and twice in the NFL?

It was preseason. We will see how it plays out now that the real games start.

While Kapinos may have gotten more distance, Sepulveda has always been very good at pinning teams inside the 20.

BradshawsHairdresser
09-08-2011, 08:52 AM
Not sure why they bothered to have the competition this summer. I wonder, in how many such cases, has the decision really already been made.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
09-08-2011, 09:05 AM
Not sure why they bothered to have the competition this summer. I wonder, in how many such cases, has the decision really already been made.

I think that the job must have been Sepulveda's to lose. It wasn't about competition as much as it was about #9 proving that his leg was healed.

phillyesq
09-08-2011, 09:10 AM
It was preseason. We will see how it plays out now that the real games start.

While Kapinos may have gotten more distance, Sepulveda has always been very good at pinning teams inside the 20.

:Agree

Kicking in 80 degree weather is a lot different from kicking in the season.

Kapinos didn't impress me last year. He was probably the best Sepulvda fill-in the Steelers have had, certainly better than Mitch Berger, but I'd prefer to stick with Sepulvda.

As Oviedo noted, he is extremely good at pinning teams inside the 20. And, given the seemingly always shaky coverage units, I'll take a guy with a bit less leg and a bit more control.

papillon
09-08-2011, 09:39 AM
Not sure why they bothered to have the competition this summer. I wonder, in how many such cases, has the decision really already been made.

Probably, simply to keep Sepulveda sharp and not to get complacent.

Pappy

phillyesq
09-08-2011, 10:14 AM
Not sure why they bothered to have the competition this summer. I wonder, in how many such cases, has the decision really already been made.

I think that the job must have been Sepulveda's to lose. It wasn't about competition as much as it was about #9 proving that his leg was healed.

:Agree

It would have been foolish to go into camp with only Sepulvda. If Sepulvda was awful in the preseason and through camp, Kapinos would likely have a job right now. But, with both performing well, the job went to Sepulvda.