The Pittsburgh Steelers have wrapped things up in minicamp and put an end to their spring practices, which means that we are officially into the dead zone, the slowest time of the year for football news and general activity, the time between the end of spring drills in mid-June to the opening of training camps in late July.
Before we get there, we are going to take a look at how the team’s roster has evolved since prior to the draft, the last time that we broke down the Steelers by position, and obviously a lot has changed since they have fleshed out their 90-man roster.
Total Positional Figure: 5
Greg Warren: Greg Warren is by the old man of the group, and one of just three players left who have been with the Steelers for all three of the team’s recent Super Bowl appearances. He is quite comfortably in a position in which he will likely continue to garner one-year contracts until he chooses to retire. He is among the most consistent long snappers in the game, and that is the only quality that you absolutely have to have at the position. I personally don’t particularly care if he records many tackles on punts.
Chris Boswell: The stumbling upon Chris Boswell was a lifesaver last season after a tumultuous August and September. With Shaun Suisham tearing his ACL, an injury that effectively appears to have ended his career, the Steelers went through an injury to Garrett Hartley before they made a trade for Josh Scobee, assuming he would be the answer.
Turns out he wasn’t. The former Pro Bowl kicker missed four of his 10 field goal attempts, and an extra point, in four games before he was released, and Boswell was one of three kickers brought in that week for a tryout. He went on to make 29 of 32 attempts, including two from beyond 50, in the regular season, and then made all seven attempts in the postseason. His touchback ratio also spiked in the postseason, but it remains to be seen if that was an aberration partially affected by Denver’s climate.
Jordan Berry: Along with Boswell, Jordan Berry conspires to make Warren seem even older, as he is also a second-year player. But his first season was far more inconsistent, and unlike Boswell, he will actually have competition to keep his job.
Matt Dooley: The first-year long snapper may not last terribly long into training camp, if we’re being honest, as several of the more recent candidates had been waived at that time, if not sooner. I doubt that Warren is sweating.
Will Monday: Among the rookie free agents the team signed after the draft is Will Monday, who looks to be a somewhat promising prospect. The hope is that he will at worst push Berry to improve his consistency.
Shaun Suisham: I took the time to write about Shaun Suisham yesterday. The most accurate kicker in team history, he was a strong locker room presence and about as consistent a player you’ll find. It’s unfortunate his career ended with injury, even if his job was very much going to be in jeopardy either way.
Ty Long: Ty Long was signed to a Reserve/Future contract after the season and was waived after rookie minicamp. No surprises there, really.
Notes and Camp Outlook: We all thought there was going to be a battle at the kicking spot, even one with the scale tipped in the favor of the younger, cheaper, healthier player, but with Suisham’s release, that won’t come to pass. Warren is unlikely to be challenged meaningfully, but Berry will have to prove himself again against another young competitor.