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Sidelined Sepulveda will miss second straight Steelers Super Bowl

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Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011

The Steelers are in the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons, but punter Daniel Sepulveda again will miss the game, reprising his role as the little boy with his face pressed against the window of a candy store.

Believe it or not, Sepulveda is still smiling.

"I could think of a lot worse problems to have in life," he said.

A torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee forced Sepulveda onto season-ending injured reserve after the Baltimore Ravens game Dec. 5. He suffered the injury trying to make a tackle on a punt return and had surgery five days later.

He tore the same ligament in training camp in 2008, ending his season long before the Super Bowl victory against the Arizona Cardinals.

"I guess I just have a biological predisposition to tearing an ACL," said Sepulveda, who plans to be ready for training camp in the summer. "I have been told I have loose joints."

But if you think he spends his days feeling sorry for himself, you don't know him very well.

"When you look at this situation, sure, it is unfortunate," he said, "but at the same time this is not a situation where, 'Oh, woe is me. I am cursed. I am so unlucky.' "

Sepulveda said his relationship with Jesus Christ allows him to endure.

"I want to be as closely related to God as I can be," he said. "In order to do that, I recognize the truth in the Bible that God can work for my good in the midst of all circumstances, even when they are bad. And this is something I would call a bad circumstance.

"This is not a denial. This is just an acceptance of reality. It is not something that I deny exists or deny that I am upset. But I use that attitude to have a proper perspective."

Replacement punter Jeremy Kapinos realizes his career can be as fragile as Sepulveda's knee.

Kapinos, a third-team All-American at Penn State, was out of football this season until the Indianapolis Colts signed him for one game when Plum native Pat McAfee was suspended for off-field issues. Along with his punting duties, he kicked off for the first time since high school, then was released three days later when McAfee returned.

"This whole year has been nuts," Kapinos said. "Coming off the couch, playing for the Colts on a Monday night. That was pretty unique, and this is unique."

Since leaving Penn State, Kapinos has punted for four teams in four seasons — including 2009 with the Green Bay Packers, where he had a punt blocked and was not asked to return in 2010.

With the Steelers, he had a 41.1-yard average in the final four regular-season games but has improved to 46.4 in the playoffs.

The significance of the Super Bowl is not lost on Kapinos, but he said he feels pressure regularly.

"It's a big game," he said, "but every game is big because I never know if it's going to be my last."

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