Only Chris Boswell is safe. Jordan Berry and Pressley Harvin III aren’t the only specialists battling to make the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week One roster. There’s a battle at long snapper between incumbent Kameron Canaday and challenger Christian Kuntz.
Mike Tomlin referenced as much in speaking with reporters Wednesday.
“We’re also excited about watching the culmination of the specialist battle,” he said via the team’s YouTube channel. “Our punters have done a great job as have our snappers. Those guys get an opportunity to put an exclamation point on their efforts on Friday night in Carolina.”
It’s a battle that we’ve admittedly ignored throughout much of training camp. But Kuntz survived both waves of cuts and for whatever it’s worth, started Saturday’s game against the Detroit Lions with Pressley Harvin III as his holder. Kameron Canaday and Jordan Berry, the vets, came on in the second half.
Even from our nerdy, specialist-loving perspective, it’s been hard to judge who has been better this summer. Neither guy has done a poor job. But the details of the job, including things like snap times, aren’t something we track.
Canaday was on the other side of this battle in 2017. He was viewed as a non-threat to sixth round draft pick Colin Holba. But Pittsburgh made the unpopular choice of keeping Canaday. At the time, Smith said it was a close race and simply came down to Canaday being the best man for the job.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. This isn’t Kuntz’s first time in Pittsburgh but it’s the first summer he’s had a real shot to win a spot on the main roster. An outside linebacker, he learned how to long snap in order to increase his value. He’s a more athletic player than Canaday and would be a better asset on the coverage team, a small but important advantage in evaluating this overall battle. Keeping Kuntz would also save the team a couple hundred thousand dollars as well.
As we wrote in the summer, Canaday did not have a very good season in 2020 with at least five bad snaps. We noted he had to be more consistent this year. It feels like he has but Kuntz has also performed well and is clearly pushing for the starting job.
Kuntz has also seemed to work with Harvin the most this summer, especially in Saturday’s game, and if the team keeps Harvin at punter, they may opt to keep Kuntz to keep the operation consistent.
The only specialist we know will be travelling to Buffalo Week One is kicker Chris Boswell. The rest will be decided this Friday.