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Thread: Boz is gonna have to earn his spot

  1. #31

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    2019 Pre-Training Camp Roster Review: Specialist

    By Matthew Marczi
    Posted on July 12, 2019

    The last time that we took a look back at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster in review, it was weeks before the 2019 NFL Draft took place. It would be safe to say that quite a bit has changed since then, and the changes apply to almost every position on the roster, some major changes, some minor.

    We are closing in on the opening of the Steelers’ several weeks of training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, however, so it would be a good time to pause and take stock of where the team stands at each position since the build-up to the draft as we head into the most critical process of the offseason.

    Position: Specialist

    Total Positional Figure: 6

    Additions: 3

    Deletions: 1

    Players Retained:

    Chris Boswell: I don’t know that there have been many instances in which a kicker goes from being recognized as one of the best in one season (Pro Bowl in 2017) to one of the worst a year later (missing 12 kicks and having competition brought in mid-season to challenge for his job). That was Boswell’s past two years. The hope is that he can find some middle ground between those two and return to being a solid option for the team. He won games for them in 2017 and lost them the next. The difference between a bye week and no playoffs at all.

    Jordan Berry: Berry has stuck around for a while now, which is significant given the carousel of punters they had since Daniel Sepulveda, but he regressed last season, and while a lot of talk has been about Boswell’s job being threatened, so is Berry’s. After all, he came in and overtook Brad Wing not so long ago.

    Kameron Canaday: Successor of Greg Warren, slayer of Colin Holba, Kameron Canaday has been at it for a couple years now, and has generally been solid. I could certainly go for the rest of my life without ever seeing a long snapper called for a hold twice in one game again though.

    Players Added:

    Matthew Wright: A UCF product who wasn’t even high on the draft boards at the kicker position, Wright is going to be Boswell’s competition in Latrobe. He made 12 of his 14 field goal attempts as a senior, with one of the misses being blocked. He had two of his three missed extra point attempts blocked as well.

    Ian Berryman: Unless someone else is brought in, the Steelers’ next punter will still have Berry in his last name regardless of what happens. Berryman did set the WCU record by averaging 43.6 yards per punt. He slumped a bit last year through injury.

    Trevor Wood: More of a tight end than a long snapper, Wood isn’t likely to be much of a threat to Canaday. He’s a longshot to make the roster period, and if he does, he would be the emergency long snapper and the third-string tight end.

    Players Deleted:

    Matt McCrane: One of the kickers brought in last year to compete against Boswell, he was signed ahead of the finale after the latter was injured and made three kicks in that game, including the winner. The team determined that he doesn’t have a strong enough leg, however, so they released him ahead of rookie minicamp, carrying only Boswell and Wright.

    Notes and Camp Outlook:

    Obviously, this will be one of the most contentious areas of the entire roster. Both kicker and punter jobs are on the line. Boswell stands to make $2 million in a roster bonus if he makes the team, so that is an element of this equation as well.

  2. #32

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    Rookies get 1st look if Steelers' kick specialists can't rebound

    By JIM WEXELL Jul 18

    Chris Boswell, PK, 2018: 13 for 20 FGs, 65%*; 43 for 48 XPs, 89.6%*.

    Jordan Berry, P, 2018: 63 punts for 2,753 yards, avg. 43.7, net 38.8*.

    (* - Denotes four-year career low)

    After all of the analysis was said and done, we realize the 9-6-1 Steelers missed the playoffs last season because of the little things.

    As the asterisks denote, those little things loom large on special teams, which means that just as Boswell and Berry came in together, they can go out together, too.

    That's not the preference of Mike Tomlin, who appreciates experience in his specialists, but of course Tomlin's not averse to seeking remedies if the aforementioned cannot revert to form.

    The remedies on hand might not be as good as those which will be available on the Sept. 1 waiver wire, but they are on hand and will get the first look if the veterans can't rebound.

    Matt Wright is the undrafted rookie placekicker. He was the kicker for 2017 national champion Central Florida, which really wasn't the national champ but took a parade through Orlando anyway. Its 13-0 season was capped by a win over Auburn, which had defeated eventual playoff champ Alabama, so it's something with which all UCF players have fun - even kickers.

    "I've talked to (Isaiah) Buggs about it a couple of times," Wright said with a smirk.

    Of course, Wright can take a poke at a big guy like Buggs, the rookie defensive lineman from Alabama, because Wright has Matt Feiler - one of the strongest offensive linemen on the team - in his corner.

    Wright came out of the same high school as Feiler - Lampeter-Strasburg of Lancaster in the eastern half of the state. Feiler was a 2010 graduate of L-S, the same year Wright entered the school as a freshman.

    Feiler is the only L-S grad to play in the NFL, and Wright hopes to become the second. What's obvious is the Steelers keep their eye on the L-S program.

    "I'd like to think so," Wright said with a laugh. "It's kind of crazy we're on the same team."

    The two have baseball in common. Both came out of that tradition-rich L-S program - Feiler a slugging third baseman and Wright a rangy shortstop.

    "We've been talking a little bit," Wright said during the final week of Steelers spring practices. "Our baseball team's in the state finals right now, so we talk about that every once in a while."

    Whereas Feiler had to make the NFL the hard way, through Division-2 Bloomsburg, Wright took a scholarship offer from D-1 Central Florida - and had his first field goal attempt blocked in the final moments of a one-point loss to Florida International. It begat a 12-game skid and the end of the George O'Leary era at UCF.

    In came Scott Frost and the rest is national championship mythology.

    Wright was part of a team that won 25 consecutive games before falling to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl, the last game in which Wright played.

    "It was quite the experience to go from the worst you can possibly be to winning everything," Wright said.

    He left as the school's all-time leader in points (375), field goals (55), extra points (212), consecutive extra points (153) and field goal percentage (77.5).

    His biggest kick?

    "Kicking in the Peach Bowl I made a couple of kicks," Wright said of 33 and 45-yarders in the 7-point win over Auburn. "And kicking in the Fiesta Bowl, I made a field goal at the end of the game to give us a chance. But I like to treat all the kicks the same. I don't think I have one kick that stands out to me."

    Wright's career long is 50 yards. He's 1-for-3 from 50-plus and 22-for-30 from 40-49.

    A better number is the 3.8 grade-point average, with which he graduated in Aerospace Engineering - the same field of study as quarterback Joshua Dobbs. But, unlike Dobbs, Wright has always wanted to be an astronaut.

    "It would be cool," Wright said. "But the more you look into that, you realize there are only like 30 astronauts in the world. And you've got to get your doctorate. I mean the NFL is a tough job but it doesn't require eight years of school. I don't know if that's what I want to do, but it would obviously be an awesome career."

    Of course, there are only 32 placekicking jobs in the NFL, so Wright's odds aren't much better here.

    "That's what everyone keeps telling me," Wright said. "But I'm here to do my best every day and see what comes of it."

    While Wright connected on only one 50-yarder in college, Ian Berryman, the undrafted rookie out of Western Carolina, connected on 56 of them.

    Of course, Berryman's a punter.

    He's the Western Carolina all-time leader with a 43.8 average, and can do all that comes with the job. He's kicked three extra points, a 31-yard field goal, held for three years, and even threw a touchdown pass out of a fake field goal last season.

    A former high school quarterback out of Marietta, Georgia, Berryman has the appearance of someone much younger than his 23 years. In fact, he looks like one of the young ball boys - until he pounds the football from one end line to the other at the Steelers' practice field on the South Side.

    And, yes, even punters have their role models. Berryman's is Pat McAfee, a Pittsburgh native who has gone on to podcast fame after a two-Pro Bowl, eight-year career with the Indianapolis Colts.

    Berryman graduated from Western Carolina with a 3.53 GPA in Broadcasting, so he's got that part of the McAfee model down.

    Is Berryman another one of those zany punters?

    "I wouldn't say I'm as out there as Pat is. I'm pretty low key," Berryman said. "But I like his style. And I emulate his style on the field. I watch his tape. We're both six foot, so we kind of have the same motion and all of that."

    All Berryman has to do now is win an NFL job.

    And, as Boswell and Berry know all too well, the hard part is keeping it.

  3. #33

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    Mike Prisuta

    Chris Boswell began the long climb back by going 8-for-8 on short field goals from various distances (Matthew Wright also 8-for-. These weren’t the pressure kicks Mike Tomlin insisted would be coming at the outset of camp. But it was at least a start for Boswell.

  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel View Post
    Mike Prisuta

    Chris Boswell began the long climb back by going 8-for-8 on short field goals from various distances (Matthew Wright also 8-for-. These weren’t the pressure kicks Mike Tomlin insisted would be coming at the outset of camp. But it was at least a start for Boswell.
    Knowing that he’s kicking for his job adds it own kind of pressure

    Molon labe

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. George Orwell

    American metal pimped by asiansteel
    Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you 1. Jesus Christ, 2.The American G.I., One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

  5. #35

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    – Kickers got more work today. Chris Boswell connected from: 32, 32, 39, 41, 51, and 51. The latter of the 51 yarders was the “mayday,” end of game kick. So Boz was a perfect 6/6.

    Matthew Wright connected from: 32, 32, 39, and 41. He missed both of his 51 yard attempts. One fell short, landing near the back of the end zone, while the other veered slightly left. So he went 4/6. Leg strength is again an issue. He reminds me of Matt McCrane. I don’t view him as serious competition to Boswell. He’s now battling himself and the rest of the league, whoever becomes available during cutdowns.


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