The Pittsburgh Steelers report to Latrobe for training camp on Friday and the team will take the field on Saturday. Here is a look at two key training camp battles that will take place over the coming weeks on special teams.
Adam Podlesh versus Brad Wing
The Steelers head into training camp once again with their punter job wide open. The position hasn’t had stability over the course of several years now and as a result, Wing has a golden opportunity to fill the spot for several years to come. While Wing, who was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles last season out of LSU, has yet to punt in a regular season game, he does have a strong leg, but needs to learn how to control it. His bad disposition now seems to be under control and the Steelers locker room at Latrobe will make sure it stays that way. Podlesh, who was originally selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 4th round (101st Overall) of 2007 NFL Draft, was scooped up by the Steelers six weeks after he was released by the Chicago Bears back in March. While the veteran punter did have two solid seasons in 2011 and 2012 with the Bears, his 2013 season was dismal and included him registering a 40.6 average and a 37.9 net average. Podlesh has kicked off before during his career, but never showed a good enough leg in those efforts. This battle could come down to the little things such as holding on placekicks and there’s always a chance that we could see a repeat of last season where neither punter used in training camp makes the final 53 man roster.
Greg Warren versus Bryce Davis
This battle for the long snapping job might end up being a very short one based on history, but should the unthinkable happen, we would look foolish for not listing as a possibility. Warren enters his tenth training camp with the Steelers and has shown no signs that he’s close to being done. He makes very few mistakes with both his snaps and blocking protection and that’s why he’s been a mainstay in Pittsburgh for so many years. The downside with Warren is that he doesn’t get down the field very quick and thus is very rarely involved in making a tackle. In fact, the Steelers website only has him credited for 17 total tackles during his first nine seasons in the league. Davis, who was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012, has yet to snap in a regular season game. If he has one redeeming quality, it’s the fact that he played tight end in college at Central Oklahoma where he caught 69 passes for 810 yards and eight touchdowns. In order for him to beat out Warren, the veteran will need to really have a miserable camp.