While Chris Boswell may have a new holder to get used to after spending the past six years with Jordan Berry as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ punter, the veteran and former Pro Bowl kicker at least has some history with Christian Kuntz, the team’s new long snapper.
Kuntz has spent parts of each of the previous two seasons with the team, here for a couple of weeks of training camp in 2019, and then in the offseason a year ago, before spending most of two months on the practice squad. He has been on the offseason roster all year, and will be moving forward as the Steelers’ starter at the position after winning the job over five-year veteran incumbent Kameron Canaday.
“Christian is very consistent. His ball is the same ball, and that’s easier, to be honest with you”, special teams coordinator Danny Smith told reporters today, when asked what pushed Kuntz ahead of Canaday. “He’s very consistent in his snaps, in his location, and that’s a challenge as a snapper. He’s a good player. I’m comfortable with these guys”.
While Canaday has been serviceable as a long snapper—you don’t hold down a job for five years if you’re not—many (who pay attention to the position) have felt that the Steelers could upgrade at this spot. They now believe that they have, though there is the understanding that the unit will take time to adjust, not just with Kuntz, but also with new punter Pressley Harvin III.
“My job is to coach them, and I’m really comfortable in that”, Smith said of the task of coaching up new specialists. “It’s a challenge for young guys in their first game. I went through that this morning in the meeting. We haven’t played a real game yet. Obviously, the temperature’s going up starting Monday’s practice”.
Interestingly, at least to me, Smith didn’t even mention the fact that Kuntz is a better coverage player on the punt coverage unit than Canaday, though obviously that’s not the first priority that you look for when evaluating long snappers. If you have a long snapper who can run down returners and make a few tackles, that’s just a cherry on top, but what you really want is someone who can snap quickly and accurately and protect your kicker and punter so that the balls get out cleanly.
I’ve already written about Kuntz and the journey he’s been through to get here. He originally came out of Duquesne in 2017, and just made a 53-man roster for the first time in his career at the age of 27. He’s been through a lot in his football life to finally reach this point, but perhaps, at long last, he’s found a home.