As the Pittsburgh Steelers head into their preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers, you cant help but think that the battle for the punting job is still wide open much like it was at this same time last year.
With Brad Wing being majority inconsistent so far during the preseason and Adam Podlesh still tucked away on the did not report list, the Steelers will definitely be watching the transaction list closely over the course of these next few weeks.
One team to keep a close eye on is the San Francisco 49ers as Colton Schmidt has had a good showing so far during the preseason. Schmidt, who is not expected to beat out incumbent Andy Lee, currently has a 48.9 average and a 46.1 net average on seven punts during the preseason. Four of those seven punts have been inside the opponents 20 yard-line and the four that have been returned resulted in 19 total yards.
Schmidt was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the 49ers in July of 2013 out of California-Davis. He had a 48.7 average last preseason on six punts with a long of 62 with the 49ers, but wound up being waived after the third preseason game. He was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns but waived again a few days later right before the start of the 2013 regular season.
At California-Davis, Schmidt finished his collegiate career with 235 punts for 9,664 yards and a school record 41.1 gross punting average. He also served as the team’s kickoff specialist with 34 of his 62 kickoffs resulting in touchbacks.
As a member of the 49ers, Schmidt has kicked off a total of fifteen times during the 2013 and 2014 preseasons and has three touchbacks. If that’s not enough, he can also kick field goals and extra points in an emergency situation.
Schmidt might not turn out to be anything special in the long run, but if waived by the 49ers over the course of the next few days, it might be worth it for the Steelers to at least kick his tires.
In addition to Schmidt, the punting battles in Dallas and Jacksonville could both produce losers that might be better than what the Steelers currently have right now. Tom Hornsey and Kasey Redfern are the two names to watch for on those two teams that could be waived over the course of the next few days.