The Pittsburgh Steelers first preseason game of 2019 will take place Friday night at Heinz Field against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and while several players are sure to sit out that contest, the team’s two kickers and two punters won’t. During his Wednesday press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to reveal how he will handle all of the kicking duties Friday night and he obliged with what his intentions currently are.
“Our intentions right now is to go every other kick regardless of circumstance,” Tomlin said. “And we’ve done that out here [in training camp]. You guys have felt that, whether it’s punting or kicking, and that’s our intentions as we go into the stadium.”
In all likelihood, although certainly not guaranteed, incumbents kicker Chris Boswell and punter Jordan Berry will more than likely be first to show off what they can do Friday night. Kicker Matthew Wright and punter Ian Berryman should also both get opportunities against the Buccaneers.
Of Boswell and Berry, the former seems more at risk at losing his job in the next four weeks due to how poorly he kicked last season. The Steelers even went as far as to get Boswell to push back the $2 million roster bonus he was originally due to receive earlier in the offseason due to concerns about his ability to potentially rebound in 2019. On Wednesday, Tomlin was asked to comment on how Boswell has performed so far during the team’s training camp.
“You know, he’s been solid, but we hadn’t done anything yet,” Tomlin said of Boswell. “You know. man, we’re stepping into a stadium for the first time. That’s exciting. We put him in some situations out here [in training camp], but man, we’re just beginning to unfold the storyline in terms of the consistency there. Not only for him, but for all of those guys.”
As for Berryman potentially being able to unseat Berry over the course of the next four weeks, that’s not totally implausible even though the team did re-sign their incumbent punter to a two-year contract worth $3.7 million that included a a $750,000 signing bonus, the only guaranteed portion of the deal, back in early March.