Mike Tomlin: Dustin Colquitt, Punt Team ‘Not Where We Want to Be’


Sarah Stier/Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin during the game against the New York Giants on September 14, 2020.

In early September the Pittsburgh Steelers added longtime Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt in an effort to save a modest amount of money and get improved performance from their punter. Colquitt’s signing marked the end of Jordan Berry’s five-year tenure with the team, during which time Berry punted 328 times for an average of 44.2 yards per punt.

To date, Pittsburgh hasn’t realized the hoped-for improvement, and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made light of it on Tuesday during his press conference.

“You know, not where we want to be,” said Tomlin, when Jim Colony of 93.7 The Fan (Pittsburgh) asked him to evaluate Dustin Colquitt. “Not only with Dustin, but with the group. The collective work has to improve. We’re simply concerned about raw numbers, net punting, and where we are right now is not where we’d like it to be.”

In his final season with the Steelers (2019), Berry punted 74 times for an average of 45.5 yards per kick and a 40.9 yard net.

So far in 2020, Colquitt—a 17-year-vet who is 38 years old—has punted 13 times with an average of 43.8 yards per punt, good for just 25th in the league. But his net punting average is just 36.8 (28th in the NFL), this as compared to Detroit Lions punter Jack Fox, who leads the league with a 49.9-yard net. At the moment, 20 NFL punters have a net average of more than 40 yards per punt.

Dustin Colquitt’s Salary vs. Jordan Berry’s Salary

In terms of the salary comparison, Dustin Colquitt is earning $1,050,000 this season, yet he counts just $750,000 against the team’s 2020 salary cap thanks to his veteran status, this according to overthecap.com.

Had Berry not been released in September he would have earned $1,150,000 in salary this season. As it is he counts for $375,000 in “dead money” on Pittsburgh’s salary cap, along with a short list of other former players that include linebacker Mark Barron and wide receiver Donte Moncrief.

WR Diontae Johnson Out of Concussion Protocol

One bit of good news that came out of Mike Tomlin’s press conference Tuesday is that second-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson is out of the concussion protocol.

“He’ll be a full participant, not only in play, but throughout the week in preparation for play. So we are excited about having him back,” said Tomlin.

Johnson was injured during the team’s 28-21 win over the Houston Texans, as was fullback Derek Watt (hamstring). The other injured player Tomlin mentioned on Tuesday was safety/linebacker Marcus Allen, who is suffering from plantar fasciitis.

As for the prospect of either Watt or Allen playing on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tomlin said, “we’ll let their participation [in practice this week] be our guide in terms of their availability.”

On Tuesday the Steelers also announced they will be hosting fans for the first time this season on Sunday, this in the wake of Pennsylvania’s governor amending the state’s guidelines for indoor and outdoor gathering limits in the state.

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