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redst3
08-14-2006, 06:48 PM
http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/news/politics/15273177.htm

Barr making a push to unseat Gardocki as Steelers' punter

ALAN ROBINSON
Associated Press

LATROBE, Pa. - All but three of the Pittsburgh Steelers' starters are back from their Super Bowl championship team, one of the main reasons why they are expected to contend for another title this season.

That doesn't mean all of those starters' jobs are safe.

Chris Gardocki, a punter so reliable he has never had one of his 1,112 punts in the NFL blocked, would seem to be safe from competition. Coach Bill Cowher covets players who perform their jobs with a minimum of errors and are productive in big games.

No problems there for Gardocki, who averaged 48.7 yards on six punts in the Super Bowl and had an excellent run during the playoffs. His 37.2 yards per punt net average ranked fourth.

Despite his consistency and durability, the 36-year-old Gardocki is being pushed in training camp by Mike Barr, a former Rutgers punter who is nine years younger but has been unable to find work in the NFL. He was cut by Pittsburgh each of the last two seasons and was released by the Washington Redskins and New York Jets in 2003.

This camp may be different.

Barr has frequently outkicked Gardocki during practice and, for a team that doesn't have much salary camp room, offers more financial flexibility. Gardocki would make $1,088,000 this season, with a salary cap value of $1.3 million, or about $1 million more than Barr's cap value would be.

"I feel like, yes, this could be it," Barr said Monday. "I feel confident in my game right now. I feel like I'm ready to be a professional athlete."

Also, teams always worry about keeping a player such as a quarterback, kicker or a punter, one who relies almost exclusively on an accurate arm or leg, a year too long. The question is whether Cowher is reluctant to cut a player as dependable as Gardocki for one with no NFL track record.

"I like Mike Barr," Cowher said. "He's got a very powerful leg. He's also done a good job holding. There's no question he's a guy that we'll take a strong look at."

Two years ago, Cowher pushed the Steelers to sign Gardocki, even though predecessor Josh Miller was better statistically. Miller ranked fourth in the league last year with a 45.1 average for the New England Patriots; Gardocki was 23rd with a 41.8 average.

Barr averaged 49 yards on three punts Saturday at Arizona, the best average in the league so far for a punter with multiple attempts. Gardocki had a 59-yarder on his only attempt, but it was returned for 28 yards by the Cardinals.

"I've had situational punts, I've gotten the team out of trouble, I've pinned teams down deep inside 10," said Barr, whose 40.2 average is the best in Rutgers history. "I've handled every situational punt well. I've got a lot of confidence in myself in those kicks, and I've got a lot of reps doing it."

Gardocki has long been one of the NFL's best punters, though he wasn't last season, at least not statistically. His net average of 34.7 yards was 29th in the league, even though he was 11th in punts placed inside the 20-yard line.

Barr has punted the last three springs in NFL Europe, averaging 37.8 yards (2006), 39.4 (2005) and 38.9 (2004). However, European playing fields are not always comparable to those in NFL stadiums.

"That's the minor leagues to me," Barr said. "I want to be the No. 1 guy in a big time league."

If Cowher were to ask him why he should be kept instead of Gardocki, what would Barr say?

"I'm a workaholic," he said. "I'm going to work hard every day. I'm going to get after it. It's in my blood, and I want do what I can to help this team win."

AZ_Steeler
08-14-2006, 06:56 PM
I'm all for this Barr dude! Yeah, he might not have the NFL experience and all the different situational scenarios such as pinning the opponent inside the 20 and dropping the ball inside the 5 like Gardocki, but I think it's time to move on. How old is Gardocki now 50??? His stats haven't been all that great the past few years I think it's time for a change, plus he is cheaper which would make help out in the effort to try and retain Ike.

If Garocki does end up sticking around hopefully this competition in camp has or will light a fire under him to show him he could be gone at any given time.

Dook
08-14-2006, 07:00 PM
I think the best player should win regardless of salary. Pay is not a big difference between the two, yeah I know it's a million dollars but for NFL teams that's nothing.

Gardocki sure stepped up his game in the playoffs last year and he's never had one blocked.

Atlanta Dan
08-14-2006, 07:27 PM
I'm all for this Barr dude! Yeah, he might not have the NFL experience and all the different situational scenarios such as pinning the opponent inside the 20 and dropping the ball inside the 5 like Gardocki, but I think it's time to move on. How old is Gardocki now 50??? His stats haven't been all that great the past few years I think it's time for a change, plus he is cheaper which would make help out in the effort to try and retain Ike.

If Garocki does end up sticking around hopefully this competition in camp has or will light a fire under him to show him he could be gone at any given time.

File away those thoughts if Barr makes the team and has a punt blocked this year in a key situation.

After the psychodrama of the Josh Miller-Bill Cowher relationship, the low maintenance Gardocki years should not be terminated casually.

In the words of Joni Mitchell "don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till its gone."

19ward86
08-14-2006, 08:49 PM
i like the fact that he has a very strong leg but the only reason they are thinking about picking him up is because of money. well if he has a phenominal year then we're going to have to sign him to a big contract anyways. so what is the point of switching?

BlackNGold203
08-14-2006, 08:58 PM
The wild card here is that Gardocki is the holder for Reed...and a damn good one...

Not sure if I wanna break up the team of Warren/Gardocki/Reed...people have to realize this affects more than just the punt game....

Petesburgh66
08-14-2006, 09:56 PM
File away those thoughts if Barr makes the team and has a punt blocked this year in a key situation.

After the psychodrama of the Josh Miller-Bill Cowher relationship, the low maintenance Gardocki years should not be terminated casually.

In the words of Joni Mitchell "don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till its gone."

My thoughts exactly. I can't recall a play where Gardocki royally screwed up. So keep him.

Haiku_Dirtt
08-14-2006, 10:35 PM
File away those thoughts if Barr makes the team and has a punt blocked this year in a key situation.

After the psychodrama of the Josh Miller-Bill Cowher relationship, the low maintenance Gardocki years should not be terminated casually.

In the words of Joni Mitchell "don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till its gone."

Before the defense even hits the field this guy is giving them more real estate behind their backs. Why in the hell would we want an unknown commodity in a position like that at this juncture. We play a fair amount of the field position game against the tougher teams. Gardocki is 'ulcer-free'.

83-Steelers-43
08-15-2006, 06:00 AM
Gardocki wants to stay


Chris Gardocki has three more years remaining on a contract that will pay him $1,088,750 this season, and he would like to remain with the Steelers until his contract expires.

Gardocki, though, is 36 and entering his 16th NFL season, and the Steelers like the strong leg on backup punter Mike Barr, who is in his third training camp with the Steelers and has played the past two years in NFL Europe.

"I'd like to finish out my contract," Gardocki said. "That's my goal from when I originally signed with Pittsburgh. Whenever anyone gets in this league, you're thankful to get a start in this league and I've just been very fortunate to play as long as I have. And I plan on playing for a few more years. I truly enjoy it."

Gardocki has never had a punt blocked in 1,112 attempts, an NFL record. Cowher has often cited Gardocki's quick kicks as a reason for his effectiveness.

"There's a peace of mind knowing you can get it out of there quick," Gardocki said. "That's the last thing you want to do. You want to get the ball as far down [the field] as you can and you don't want to start it off with a negative play.

"It's one of those things I've taken pride in and always work on, and I'll always keep working on it. I'll never stop working on it till I get done playing." - PPG

Pier2.0T
08-15-2006, 09:13 AM
I suppose you have to look at the long term. Right now, the Steelers are enjoying an infusion of youth at almost every position. It seems to be the way that the administration is going. Certainly, there is an element of risk trading experience for youth but the Steeler front office has shown us that they have never gambled recklessly. Parker is the case in point. I enjoy Gardocki's strategic punting but I wish he had more distance. Perhaps Barr can be both. I place my confidence squarely in the hands of the front office.

83-Steelers-43
08-15-2006, 09:19 AM
Quick reply to this topic; If Barr is looking good (in my opinion he does), I'm all for cutting Gardocki. Save money and Barr is still young. We need the money for future signings. If we have a capable replacement, go for it. Much like the situation with Kimo.

HometownGal
08-15-2006, 09:24 AM
File away those thoughts if Barr makes the team and has a punt blocked this year in a key situation.

After the psychodrama of the Josh Miller-Bill Cowher relationship, the low maintenance Gardocki years should not be terminated casually.

In the words of Joni Mitchell "don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till its gone."

Good post Dan. We are going into a repeat season. I'd rather have the experienced veteran than a "maybe". Barr did look very good in Arizona, no doubt, but imho, Gardocki has more than proven his worth to the team. I don't look at his age as a deciding factor here - if he is still getting the job done and pulling his share of the load, I see no reason not to keep him. Field position is one of the most important aspects of the game, obviously, and Gardocki is pretty darned good at nailing the opponents behind the 20 and at times, the 10.

ARKIESTEEL
08-15-2006, 09:29 AM
Good post Dan. We are going into a repeat season. I'd rather have the experienced veteran than a "maybe". Barr did look very good in Arizona, no doubt, but imho, Gardocki has more than proven his worth to the team. I don't look at his age as a deciding factor here - if he is still getting the job done and pulling his share of the load, I see no reason not to keep him. Field position is one of the most important aspects of the game, obviously, and Gardocki is pretty darned good at nailing the opponents behind the 20 and at times, the 10.


I think this says it all!!

Midnightwriter07
08-15-2006, 11:59 AM
I dont mind Gardocki at all and i am not sure what freeing up the money between the two would be in savings to our club or if it is even an issue.. I am comfortable with Gardocki just cause i know he doesnt mess up or at least hasnt since he has been here to my knowledge. To me is a comfort factor i guess in knowing he gets the job done. If we are in cap trouble for next year ( we are not at this point ) then i can see where that part would be an issue.. on experience i have to give the nod to Gardocki unless this other guy just blows everyone away.