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Leg up on the competition

| Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010

The Steelers' latest wave of injuries has apparently produced a two-man competition at punter.

Former Penn State standout Jeremy Kapinos and Ricky Schmitt, who spent a couple of days on the Steelers' practice squad in 2008, will vie to replace Daniel Sepulveda.

Sepulveda is out for the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee Sunday night in Baltimore.

Kapinos and Schmitt are scheduled to work out for the Steelers today, and one of them likely will be signed with Sepulveda headed for injured reserve.

Kapinos has the edge in experience, while Schmitt may have an advantage in familiarity.

Schmitt worked out for the Steelers in 2008 when the team was looking to replace the ineffective Mitch Berger, who had become the punter after Sepulveda tore the ACL in his right leg during training camp.

Paul Ernster beat out Schmitt but was eventually replaced by Berger.

Schmitt has played in one NFL game and that came last season -- as a kicker for the San Francisco 49ers.

He connected on two of three field-goal attempts before getting released by the 49ers.

Kapinos has played for three NFL teams, most recently for the Indianapolis Colts.

He punted for the Colts on Nov. 1 while Plum and West Virginia graduate Pat McAfee served a one-game suspension after getting arrested for public intoxication.

Kapinos, a third-team All-American at Penn State in 2006, served as the Green Bay Packers' punter in 2009.

He averaged 43.8 yards per punt, but the Packers did not re-sign him after the season. Kapinos, who is left-footed, punted in one game for the New York Jets in 2007.

Sepulveda, who is also the Steelers' holder, was in the midst of his best season before getting hurt.

He ranks seventh in the NFL in punting average (45.5 yards) and ninth in net average (39.1).

Sepulveda's cleat got caught in the turf at M&T Bank Stadium as he attempted to make a tackle on Lardarius Webb's 35-yard punt return in the Steelers' 13-10 win against the Ravens.

Roethlisberger undergoes surgery

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent surgery Monday to repair a broken nose, which he sustained a day earlier in the Steelers' 13-10 win against the Ravens.

The seventh-year veteran is expected to start Sunday when the Steelers host the Bengals.

Roethlisberger did not miss any playing time after Ravens defensive linemen Haloti Ngata inadvertently hit him in the face in the first quarter while rushing the passer.

The NFL fined Ngata $15,000 Monday for hitting a quarterback in the head while the latter was in a defenseless position.

Roethlisberger, who also played on a sprained right foot, completed 22 of 38 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown, as the Steelers moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

"Once the adrenaline starts going, I think that helps with a lot of things," Roethlisberger said of playing through the injuries. "When you get out there, you can't have any excuses, you've just got to be ready to play the game."

When asked after the game if he was surprised Ngata did not get penalized for hitting him in the face, Roethlisberger said, "No."

Penalties for hits to the quarterback have become a point of contention with the Steelers.

Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison has been penalized three times and fined twice for such hits since November.

Roethlisberger, meanwhile, has not drawn any roughing the passer penalties this season.

Three questions

Three questions with Steelers running back Isaac Redman, who is the first Bowie (Md.) State alum to play in the NFL:

Where is the ball with which you scored your first NFL touchdown (against the Raiders) and what are your plans for it?

"It's right on my night stand. I'll probably take it home to my mom. We might get to go home for Christmas because we play that Thursday (Dec. 23), so it will be a nice little Christmas present."

What did it mean to score the winning touchdown against the Ravens?

"I made the biggest play in the biggest game I've ever played. It just goes to show you that the hard work paid off. That was like a 12-round fight, and we hung in there long enough to win."

Do you think you can be a feature back in this league?

"No question. I've just got to work hard, and hopefully one day I'll get that shot. A lot of people were doubting me, not thinking that I really had a chance or belonged here. I always believed I could play and contribute."

3 players to watch



Nickel back struggled in Steelers' 27-21 win against the Bengals on Nov. 8, but he has played considerably better in recent weeks.



Has averaged 47.8 receiving yards in the four games since he torched the Steelers for 141 yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati.



Rookie did not have a catch against the Bengals in the teams' first meeting, but his role in the passing game has been steadily increasing.

By the numbers

6 -- Bengals losses this season by seven points or less

11 -- More takeaways than giveaways that the Steelers have this season

13 -- Consecutive field goals Shaun Suisham has made between 40 and 49 yards

47.2 -- Combined winning percentage of the nine teams the Steelers have beaten

697 -- Receiving yards Hines Ward is on pace for this season, which would be his fewest since 2000

Photo Galleries

Steelers vs. Ravens 12/5/10

Steelers vs. Ravens  12/5/10

Steelers defeat the Ravens, 13-10, Sunday December 5, 2010 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

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