The Pittsburgh Steelers were put in quite a bind last season when their kicker, Shaun Suisham, suffered a season-ending ACL injury when he attempted to make a tackle in the second half of the team’s Hall of Fame game in the preseason, an additional preseason game that only two teams play.
Following his injury, the Steelers were forced to search for a replacement, first coming across Garrett Hartley, who suffered a soft muscle injury serious enough to land him on injured reserve, though he eventually reached an injury settlement and was released.
After having already gone through two kickers, the Steelers were looking for a surer solution when they traded for Josh Scobee and agreed to take on $2 million of his salary, but after he missed four of his first 10 field goals, as well as an extra point try, he, too, was released.
That finally brought Chris Boswell to Pittsburgh, and now that he is here, it doesn’t appear that he is going to be getting his nose too dirty on kickoffs, to hear special teams coach Danny Smith tell it to Ed Bouchette for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
When asked about playing it safe with Boswell, Smith said, “people don’t realize that sounds good and I think that philosophy is sound”. Suisham and the team received some Monday morning quarterback critiquing for the kicker’s attempt to tackler a returner on a kickoff in a meaningless game, and that injury may have been enough to create a greater sense of caution.
“Smith will not instruct Boswell to head for the sideline after a kick”, Bouchette writes, “but to stay his ground as a safety to possibly get in the way or even make a tackle if the return man breaks one”. He notes that “that running to the sideline for safety reasons did not go over well with some coaches and players when Jeff Reed once did it”.
While it is obviously a rare occurrence for an injury such as Suisham’s to go down, in his case, it seems to have proven career-ending, and the Steelers were forced to release him with a failed physical. He subsequently hinted that he would likely not play again due to the injury, though he had multiple years remaining on his contract.
The Steelers are hoping to avoid having a repeat scenario with Boswell, a young second-year kicker whom they believe has the potential to be very good. He posted one of the best kicking percentages for a single season in team history last year when he made 29 of 32 field goal attempts in 12 games, and then he made all seven of his field goal attempts in two postseason appearances.
There is a lot of optimism surrounding Boswell heading into his second season, whom the team believes holds a lot of poise for a young man. It was raining when he tried out for the team, and when he made a 35-yard game-winning field goal to beat the Bengals in the playoffs. They expect similar performances for years to come.