Former Pro Bowl punter Moorman gives Steelers options
By Alan Robinson
Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013, 11:48 p.m.
Punters, by the very nature of their sit-around-and-wait job, possess plenty of time to watch everything that goes on around them.
Brian Moorman didn't need long to understand why the Steelers reached the Super Bowl twice in the past five seasons.
“It's a great experience to come here and see how coach (Mike) Tomlin leads this team and what a great coach he is,” Moorman said. “He is a breath of fresh air.”
Especially to a player who, from 2001-12, played for a string of losing-record coaches in Buffalo, including Gregg Williams, Dick Jauron and Chan Gailey. Moorman has played for only one winning team in 12 seasons, hence his attraction to the Steelers.
The Steelers' attraction to Moorman as a free agent is that he is expected to provide considerable training camp competition to Drew Butler, who was in the mid-range of NFL punters during his 2012 rookie season.
Butler and Moorman will take part in one of the Steelers' more understated position battles during camp, which opens July 26.
The Bills cut Moorman, a two-time Pro Bowler, a month into last season, but he quickly hooked on with Dallas.
His 2012 season was average by his standards, but he provides the Steelers with an experienced option if they don't like how Butler performs during camp.
“I know I can help with the field position game,” Moorman said. “I hope it is here. I think Drew is a great punter and is doing a great job. I'm trying to get better each day and see how it plays out. I'm looking to be a Pittsburgh Steeler.”
Moorman, a three-time NCAA Division II hurdles champion while at Pittsburg State, ranks 17th among all NFL punters in average (44.0 yards) and 16th in net average (37.6) since breaking into the league in 2001.
The Steelers are a below-average 23rd overall in punting since Moorman came into the league. Butler ranked 26th last season with a 43.8 average — Moorman was 23rd at 44.8 — yet that average was the Steelers' second highest since 2001.
Moorman's average would have been higher except for a bad day of situational punting against the Bengals, when he averaged 33 yards on five punts and badly missed locating the ball on several kicks.
Butler's hang time is an issue at times — he ranked near the bottom in the league — and the Steelers didn't want him going through camp without someone pushing him.
“I definitely felt like this was the best fit for me,” Moorman said. “I feel lucky to be here. There's a lot of history here.”
Moorman, 37, has a bit of history himself; he is one of only four punters who have been in the league since 2001.
“But I don't look at age. As a kicker or a punter, experience is important,” Moorman said. “I feel I'm hitting the ball better than I did at 26. ... And I try to make something better each time I step on the field.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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