There were two immediate reactions from Steelers’ fans seeing the official news Saturday that WR JuJu Smith-Schuster had come off injured reserve and would play tonight against the Chiefs.
1. Hooray for JuJu.
2. Why did Corliss Waitman get released?
In his weekly Q&A with Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola, Mike Tomlin had an answer for the latter. According to him, the decision to keep Pressley Harvin III over Waitman came down with the comfort of Harvin’s ability to hold on field goals and extra points.
“The inclement weather conditions and the continuity that we had at the snap-hold-kick component of it was a part of the equation a week ago,” Tomlin told Labriola when asked why the team chose Harvin over Waitman last Sunday. “And really, it will continue to be part of the equation. We’ve had great success with Christian (Kuntz) snapping and Pressley (Harvin) holding, and (Chris Boswell) kicking.”
Sunday’s regular season finale victory over the Ravens was a wet and rainy game. And it relied on good holding and special teams operation, Chris Boswell’s 36-yard field goal sending the Steelers’ home winners. As a punter, however, Harvin continued to struggle, unable to pin the ball well inside the Ravens’ 20 on multiple occasions along with one shanked punt.
Tomlin outlined what a work-week looks like for Harvin, and how the team planned for ugly weather in Baltimore.
“Pressley on a normal Wednesday, he’ll have 75 holds shot from the JUGS machine. On Thursday, he’ll have 50. That’s 125 holds every week…the Wednesday before the game in Baltimore, Danny Smith, myself, Christian, and Pressley were off on the side during an offensive period, and we were dipping the ball in a bucket and delivering a wet ball to them. And they were snapping and holding a wet ball, because we read the advance forecast that it might be inclement weather in Baltimore.”
The Steelers seem to be making a similar decision for tonight’s game at Kansas City. Harvin edged out Waitman, who was waived yesterday. It’s worth noting weather isn’t likely to be a big factor in tonight’s game. There will be some wind, but rain nor snow is expected in the Kansas City forecast.
“Punting is just a part of the equation. That snap-hold-kick component, the cohesion required to be varsity there is attractive as well. And so Pressley remains our punter.”
Harvin will need to continue his solid job of holding while improving as a punter. Field position will be at a premium in a game where the Steelers will need to win in all three areas – offense, defense, and special teams – to upset the heavily favored Chiefs.