Steelers notebook: Mike Tomlin unhappy with punting, Jordan Berry
Mike Tomlin is running out of patience with Jordan Berry.
The Pittsburgh Steelers coach indicated Tuesday that the team will try out punters this week because he isn’t “comfortable” with the results he’s seen from Berry, who is in his fourth season with the team.
Berry ranks 30th among NFL punters with a 34.8 net average on 12 punts through the Steelers’ 0-1-1 start. In the 42-37 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Berry had a healthy 46.4-yard gross average, but the net was just 31.6.
The Steelers purposely had Berry kick the ball away from Tyreek Hill, but DeAnthony Thomas had a 48-yard return. Berry dropped a punt at the Chiefs 1, which led to a safety for the Steelers, but he also had one go into the end zone for a touchback.
“It’s got to be better,” Tomlin said. “I thought field position was significant in terms of how that game unfolded. Even with some of the directional stuff, I thought we would be better.”
Berry kept his job at the end of the preseason even though free agent Matt Wile had better numbers. Wile had a net of 48.8 yards on eight punts and placed four inside the 20. Berry had a 35.1 net on 12 punts with four inside the 20.
Berry is earning $1.907 million this season.
Wile was claimed by the Minnesota Vikings and is earning the NFL minimum salary. He isn’t faring much better than Berry, however. He ranks No. 28 with a 34.6 net average, and he has accounted for the only blocked punt in the NFL this season.
Offensive line hurting
Guard David DeCastro’s broken hand that kept him out of the loss to the Chiefs isn’t the only injury the Steelers are dealing with on the offensive line.
Tomlin revealed right tackle Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) and left guard Ramon Foster (knee) were injured Sunday. He didn’t know the extent of the injuries but said the coaching staff will “watch through the week” to see if they can play Monday night at Tampa Bay.
The reserve offensive linemen on the 53-man roster are guard/center B.J. Finney, who started in place of DeCastro, rookie tackle Chuks Okorafor, Zach Banner and Matt Feiler.
Tomlin said it’s possible DeCastro could play against the Buccaneers. He also put defensive end Tyson Alualu (shoulder) in the same category and is encouraged by the progress that cornerback Joe Haden (hamstring) made with a week off. Haden could practice Wednesday.
“He a good week of rehabilitation,” Tomlin said. “We anticipate him working.”
If Haden can’t return against the Buccaneers, Tomlin likely will have to use a combination of Coty Sensabaugh and Cameron Sutton to fill the position again.
Sutton started against Kansas City but was replaced by Sensabaugh. They each logged 29 snaps in a secondary that allowed Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to throw for 326 yards and six touchdowns. The Steelers allowed six pass plays of at least 25 yards.
“I thought they had their moments. I also thought at times their work lacked a little detail,” Tomlin said of the Sutton-Sensabaugh tandem. “They could be better. We’ll see where it leads us. Right now, we’re anticipating Joe working, and we’ll see where that work leads us. They could have been better, but we all could have been better, starting with myself.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.