The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will both kickers set to participate in rookie minicamp make it out the other side?
The Steelers vowed to have competition for former Pro Bowl kicker Chris Boswell this offseason, and to that end they have added two kickers so far, including Matt McCrane, who was already on the 53-man roster at the end of last season when the former suffered an injury ahead of the season finale and was placed on injured reserve.
Though he kicked in a handful of games last season between Pittsburgh and Oakland, he did not do so in enough games to qualify for an accrued season. That means he is still regarded as a first-year player, and thus is eligible to participate in this weekend’s rookie minicamp.
Joining him will be actual rookie Matthew Wright, an undrafted free agent out of Central Florida who was signed after the draft. Will the Steelers use this time to find out which one of them is better, and then allow only the victor to continue on in the offseason to battle Boswell?
This is what they did at the punter position back in 2015 when Brad Wing was the incumbent. The Steelers brought in Richie Leone earlier in the offseason, but signed Jordan Berry later on in April ahead of the draft. They determined that Berry was the better candidate at punter, and so released Leone. Berry would later be kept as their punter, with Wing traded to the New York Giants.
There is something to be said for bringing in the most competition possible, but at the same time, the more candidates there are, the fewer reps each one will receive, and the more diluted the competition becomes. So weeding one out now may be their plan, and for the best.