You can officially color me surprised as not only did the Pittsburgh Steelers add offensive lineman Cody Wallace to the roster on Sunday, they also added punter Zoltan Mesko and defensive back Antwon Blake on Monday.
While the jury is still out on Wallace being an upgrade over John Malecki, the addition of both Mesko and Blake are certainly upgrades as far as special teams go.
Mesko didn’t have a great preseason for the New England Patriots as he was beat out of the punting job by undrafted free agent Ryan Allen. Still, the Michigan product should be an upgrade over the inconsistent Drew Butler, who made a strong final push in the last two preseason games to beat out veteran Brian Moorman for an initial spot on the 53 man roster.
You could tell that the Steelers punter battle definitely went down to the wire as Moorman would have likely been given a veteran courtesy release prior to the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers if the team had really felt comfortable with Butler.
In 2012, nearly 50% of Mesko’s 60 punts were inside the opposition’s 20-yard-line. In addition to that, the 23 punts of his that were returned resulted in only a 6.7 yard per return average.
In Blake, the Steelers get a defensive back that led the Jacksonville Jaguars last season in special teams tackles as a gunner with 12. At his pro day in 2012, the 5-9, 192-pound Blake reportedly ran a 4.32 forty-yard dash and did 21 reps of 225 pounds on the bench.
Blake only played four snaps on defense last season for the Jaguars, so he is likely not considered a long-term cornerback prospect. In fact, the Jaguars reportedly tried to switch him to safety last August.
The Steelers have made a concerted effort to change over their roster that went 8-8 last season. Not only have they gotten younger, but as of Monday evening, the 53 man roster now includes 19 players who were not on the roster at all in 2012.
So, are the Steelers done making moves? They have made three more than I expected them to make, so anything is possible at this point.