Rookie punter Drew Butler’s 41.4 average is the NFL’s second-lowest, although his 38.4 net ranks 19th, and he has five punts inside the 20. Coaches often judge punters more by their ability to put the ball down close to the goal line than they do their overall average.
Antonio Brown averages a Pro Bowl-level 11 yards on five punt returns. But the Steelers’ 23.2 average on kickoff returns is only 24th, and their opponents are averaging a healthy 33.2 yards, second-highest in the league.
While the Steelers haven’t had a kickoff return longer than 27 yards, their opponents have five of 26 yards or longer, topped by Mike Goodson’s 51-yarder for Oakland.
“One of most important things you see when you have breakout runs is people not staying within their job or in their lanes,” cornerback Cortez Allen said. “You’ve got to keep contain. That’s within the defense, too; you have to stay true to what your assignment is.”
The kick-coverage units could be helped by the return of linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, who missed the first three games with a knee injury. - Pittsburgh Trib