But during a Friday night practice at Latrobe Stadium, a case can be made that the player who put the biggest bounce in Coach Mike Tomlin’s step was Daniel Sepulveda. Yes, the team’s punter.
The day’s events began in the afternoon with WDVE-FM broadcasting live from Latrobe Stadium, there was a pre-practice concert and a post-practice fireworks display. Also, the Steelers conducted a 15-minute autograph session, in which all players and coaches participated. As usual, it was a packed house, with proceeds benefiting the Greater Latrobe School District Athletic Program, and with Giant Eagle matching all fans’ donations to the Westmoreland County Food Bank.
“It’s awesome. It takes you back to high school football,” said Tomlin. “It’s really a genuine, awesome atmosphere. The fans are great. If we can entertain them and interact with them a little bit and get our usual work done, it’s a bonus.”
For the most part, the work getting done was fairly typical of a Steelers practice. There were competitive individual periods, highlighted by backs-on-backers, but what really seemed to get Tomlin’s juices flowing was a special teams drill.
Sepulveda got a chance to kick off, and he showed himself to be quite accomplished at it. On four kickoffs, Sepulveda’s hang-times were 4.07, 3.93, 3.87 and 3.70. The 4.07 kick also carried 2 yards deep in the end zone, and earlier in the evening, one of his mis-hits went 8 yards deep in the end zone.
“I liked it,” said Tomlin. “Daniel Sepulveda might provide us with a legitimate options there. I liked his placement of the ball, I liked his hang time. He’s worked a lot at it. He didn’t have any exposure in that area prior to getting here. That just speaks to what he is – he’s always willing to do whatever for us.”
Sepulveda has done some kickoff work in each of his training camps with the Steelers, but now with his experience and the fact there is only one kicker and one punter in camp, he got a chance to do it in a live drill. And the way he performed in that live drill should ensure even more opportunities.
“What great energy provided for us, of course, by our fans tonight,” said Tomlin. “It was a great opportunity to come out and work in front of them in a unique environment. It kind of stimulates and motivates the guys. I thought we had a very productive, high energy, competitive practice.”
There is no practice that is open to the public on Saturday, Aug. 7 because the Steelers will travel as a team to attend Dick LeBeau’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The next practice that is open to the public will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8.