From David Lowry: What aspect of your game would you like to improve on this year?
Drew Butler: Just being ready from game one onwards. Last year I felt like I had the rookie jitters early in the season. I got more comfortable week three, four and five. I thought I took a step forward every week. I am more comfortable and confident, I know what to expect. It’s developing the consistency and dependability from the coaching staff that I can perform in any situation is a big goal of mine.
From Mark Gainor: What is the feeling like when you bury an opponent deep in their own territory on a punt?
Drew Butler: It’s a great feeling because everyone understands the work that we put in throughout the week. To be able to put the defense in a good position like that and hopefully turn it into good field position for the offense, that is what you are going for. To get a few high fives on the sideline and make the coaches happy is fulfilling.
From Dale Piper: How important of a stat is inside the 20-yard line to you?
Drew Butler: It’s a really important stat. Inside the 20-yard line dictates the field position throughout the game. If you give the offense a short field to work on, and let the defense have a lot of field behind them, you are going to put their team in a predicament.
From Bobbie Cunningham: You have a new special teams coach with Danny Smith now there. What has that adjustment been like?
Drew Butler: It’s been really good. I think Coach Smith is going to bring a lot of energy to the special team’s units. I had the privilege to work with him for a week during the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. He was my coach that week. I have had prior meetings with him and I think I am going to benefit a lot from him and grow as a player with him as our coach.
From Ken Zimmerman: How much of the game is mental, how much physical at your position?
Drew Butler: That’s a tough question. I would say it’s as much mental as physical. Being a specialist calls for special talents, that’s why kickers do what they do, same with punters. That is why we do different stuff during practice. I compare it a lot to golf. I would say the mental aspect outweighs the physical aspect. You have to put the work in, but putting yourself in a situation to let your physical talent take over, that is when the mental side kicks in. it’s all about being confident, knowing what you have to do and performing.
From Jim Grove: How challenging is it making an NFL roster as an undrafted rookie free agent?
Drew Butler: It was challenging. When you expect to be drafted, and everyone wants to be drafted, your confidence takes a little bit of a hit. But to end up in a place like Pittsburgh has been a true blessing. I have learned so much in the past year. I have grown as a football player and a man. I am thankful every day. Having the opportunity to land at a place where you might not have expected to come, like I did here in Pittsburgh, was a blessing in disguise and I am very happy that it happened.
From Cliff Payne: What advice would you give this year’s rookie free agents?
Drew Butler: Just come to work and do your job. Having to go through the rookie process isn’t easy. There is a lot to take in. But at the end of the day if you do your job, work hard, and perform on the field good things are going to happen.
From Larry Era: How tough was it to deal with finishing last season 8-8 and not in the playoffs?
Drew Butler: It was very tough. You get the sense that this town doesn’t accept seasons without going to the playoffs. We fizzled out at the end of the year, which was a bummer with the hot middle of the season we had. I think we all understand how disappointing it was and are doing the things necessary to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
From Neil Cole: Do you sense this team has more drive, more passion after missing out on the playoffs last year?
Drew Butler: Without a doubt. The work we put in during the offseason and attention to detail definitely goes to show that 8-8 isn’t acceptable and we have one goal here in Pittsburgh and that is to win a Super Bowl.
From Deb Levine: What do specialists do in practice when offense and defense are running drills?
Drew Butler: We do a lot of drills, mental preparation, and go through specific situations that may come up in the game. We get our mindset ready to take up whatever might come up in the game. We get a lot of work down before offense and defense are on the field, during special team’s periods, but you can’t kick all day. That is when the mental side of the game comes in and you focus on those things.