The Pittsburgh Steelers had their first Pro Bowl specialist in decades a couple years ago in Chris Boswell. He almost didn’t even make it through the next season without getting cut. The four-year veteran went from routinely hitting buzzer-beating game-winners to costing the team games against teams like the Cleveland Browns, missing 12 kicks in total, including seven of 20 field goal attempts.
So how did he make it through the season? In large part, because he has a position coach in Danny Smith who believes in him, and believes he is the player he saw through the first three seasons of his career, rather than through his struggles in 2018.
Of course, there are those who think they belong together—anywhere but in Pittsburgh.
Be that as it may, Smith understands that it really doesn’t matter what Boswell looks like now. The only thing that matters is that he hits his field goals when they count for something. Not just because they count, but also because that’s the only way that you’re going to know whether or not he’s ‘back’.
“If there’s a bounce back it happens quick”, he told reporters yesterday. “We’ll see that soon. If he’s gonna bounce back, he’s gonna make it. It ain’t gonna be 50-50. It ain’t gonna be part time. He’s either back or he ain’t, and we’ll handle that appropriately”.
Last season, the Steelers felt it was appropriate to give Boswell the opportunity to win his job back late in the year as he was struggling significantly. They brought in a couple of other kickers and allowed him to kick against them in essentially an open competition, which he won.
He went out and missed a kick in his next game. But he did stabilize before getting injured, which resulted in him being played on the injured reserve list ahead of the season finale. They brought in Matt McCrane to kick in that last contest. He was one of the kickers brought in earlier to compete with him. The Steelers released him prior to rookie minicamp.
As for Boswell, he will receive a $2 million roster bonus if he makes the team, but Smith doesn’t believe it’s really possible to know if he is going to be the same player who actually earned that type of bonus until he’s on the roster and facing those pressure opportunities again.
“The key is to put him in those situations. The key is for him to get in a game and hit those game-winners like he’s capable and he’s done”, Smith said. “He looks very good and I’m very pleased at where he’s at today, but today we ain’t winning games. We’ll see when we get in that game setting and, like I say, you’ll see it just as soon as I’ll see it”.
So, basically, if he wins the kicking job in training camp, keep your fingers crossed. Smith will too, because he knows, “once that son of a bitch goes wide right…you come looking for me”.