Steelers Notebook: Kicking woes addressed -- Ernster out, Berger back

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The revolving door for punters continues to spin.

The Steelers have decided to bring back punter Mitch Berger as a replacement for Paul Ernster -- the second time this season Ernster has been waived in favor of Berger.

The decision to re-sign Berger, 36, is not a surprise because coach Mike Tomlin said he needed to address the position after Ernster punted five times for a 28.5-yard average in the team's game against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday.

Berger appeared in eight games for the Steelers this season, averaging 41.9 yards per punt, but he was released Nov. 5 because of hamstring problems in both legs. Ernster, who was with the team in training camp, was re-signed as his replacement.

Curiously, Berger was brought to training camp to compete with Ernster to be the replacement for injured Daniel Sepulveda. Berger won the job and Ernster was released in the final cut.

Injury update

Defensive end Brett Keisel, who missed three games earlier this season with a calf injury, sprained his left knee against the Bengals and is expected to miss the next few games.

The injury is not to the same leg in which he had the calf injury. Keisel will likely be replaced by veteran Travis Kirschke.

The status of running back Willie Parker, who appeared to tweak his injured knee against the Bengals, will be updated today when Tomlin holds his weekly televised news conference.

The players have been off since Thursday night and report back to work today.

Ward honored for service

Wide receiver Hines Ward, who leads the team with 54 catches, 718 receiving yards and 5 touchdown catches, has been cited for his off-field accomplishments.

Ward has been named the Steelers' 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year, an award that recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well as his playing achievements.

For the past three years, Ward has hosted biracial Korean children for a weekend visit to Pittsburgh and annually travels to Korea during the offseason to reunite with those children.

He will be one of 32 winners from NFL teams to be considered for the national Walter Payton Award, which will be presented during Super Bowl week. As a team finalist, Ward will receive a $1,000 donation in his name to the charity of his choice. Last year's national winner was Miami defensive end Jason Taylor.


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