Jordan Berry has heard from his coaches. Not that he needed to get their opinion to assess his own punting this season.
“We (as punters and kickers) know we kick the ball (poorly),” the Pittsburgh Steelers punter said Wednesday. “But you know, (coaches) are going to come up and be up front with us as well.”
So while Berry didn’t hear what coach Mike Tomlin had to say during his weekly news conference Tuesday ( “It’s got to be better,” Tomlin said of the punting ), Berry had already been give the message by the special-teams braintrust of Tomlin and special-teams coach Danny Smith.
“‘Hey, you haven’t hit the ball well. We need you to improve. If you don’t improve it, you know, you have to start looking over your shoulder’ kind of thing,” Berry said.
“The coaches here are fantastic and they are very upfront with everybody. They are not going to hide anything. You hear stories from other teams; head games with people… There’s nothing that (Steelers coaches) are hiding from me.”
Berry acknowledged he mis-hit several balls during Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. He was trying to kick directionally to avoid Tykeek Hill and the Chiefs’ stellar return game – but not as directional as some of his punts went.
“I was really trying to make sure I was getting it toward the sideline with that punt return team; I just didn’t hit a couple of them clean,” Berry said. “So then when you are taking that sharp angle and then you don’t hit it clean, it just exaggerates how bad the ball is.
“I am just not hitting the ball well. That’s about it.”
So how does Berry fix his woes? He ranks 30th among NFL punters with a 34.8 net average on 12 punts through the Steelers’ 0-1-1 start. Sunday, Berry had a 31.6 net average.
He said he won’t change his routine and that limited practice time (too much punting outside of games can wear a leg out) limits options for what Berry can do in terms of adjustments.
“Just go through practice, just got to get down to those fundamentals and make sure I am doing everything right and clean,” Berry said. “Just got to kick the ball, really, that’s all it is.
“In practice, I have been smashing the ball, so I just have got to in the game got to translate that across and make sure I am getting everything in that process clean and smooth.”
Berry confirmed reports that the Steelers brought in potential replacement punters to work out this week.
“But as long as I am punting well, no one is going to be able to beat me out,” he said. “So yeah, I am good.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.