Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Steelers' Butler serving up punts with Kapinos hurt - Timesonline.com

LATROBE -- Steelers want-to-be punter Drew Butler may have a “Butthead” for a father, but he sure hopes to follow his footsteps.

When Drew Butler was born in 1989, his dad already had picked up a Super Bowl ring and a nickname while playing for Mike Ditka’s wild and crazy Chicago Bears.

Kevin Butler kicked for the Bears, and in his rookie season in 1985, became a Windy City hero by setting an NFL rookie record with 144 points. Drew Butler, a former star Georgia, can only hope he'll have a chance to set a Steelers’ rookie punting record.

“You have to believe in yourself first, and I definitely believe in myself,” he said. “That’s why I’m here. My dream is to punt in the NFL, and I’m working hard to accomplish it.”

Before this year’s NFL Draft, Kevin Butler hoped that one of his three former teammates who are now NFL coaches -- Carolina’s Ron Rivera, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier and St. Louis’ Jeff Fisher -- would draft him.

That didn’t happen.

But during the seventh round, Drew Butler got a call from Steelers’ special team coach Al Everest. When Kevin Butler was wrapping up his 13-year NFL career with a two-year stint in Arizona, Everest coordinated the Cardinals’ special teams.

“Coach Everest called me and my agent and told us that coming to Pittsburgh would be a great opportunity,” Butler said. “He told me that if I came here, I could learn and be around a great organization. I could get into a situation where I could get some reps and just get my foot in the NFL door.”

From the moment the Steelers signed him as an undrafted free agent, he had every intention of competing and beating out incumbent Jeremy Kapinos.

Butler set a Georgia mark with career average of 45.4 yards per kick. In 2009, when he led the nation with an 48.1 average, he earned All-American honors and won the Ray Guy Award as college football’s best punter.

With Kapinos out, Butler will handle punting duties for the time being and will get a chance to improve his standing Thursday in the preseason opener in Philadelphia.

The Steelers have been somewhat mum about the extent of Kapinos’ condition, but he’s out indefinitely with a back injury.

Kapinos spent time on the Steelers’ roster the past two years when Daniel Sepulveda battled through knee injuries. The Steelers didn’t re-sign Sepulveda this year, opting instead on Kapinos, who averaged 45.0 yards per kick last year in the eight games he played.

“Fortunately for me, I’m in a situation where I’m getting a lot of reps,” Butler said. “Jeremy’s injury has been pretty unfortunate for him. But it’s been a good experience for me as I try to get settled in and learn. I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I don’t think any job on this team is handed down,” Butler added. “I’m here to compete. That’s what I’m here to do. I’ll do my best to try and find a spot on this team.”

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