Kickers will be put to test at Steelers’ annual Heinz Field practice
Coach Mike Tomlin promised to find high-pressured situations for kicker Chris Boswell at training camp, and a significant test for the fifth-year veteran will come Sunday night.
Boswell and his training-camp competition, undrafted free agent Matthew Wright, will attempt field goals at Heinz Field when the Pittsburgh Steelers conduct their annual Family Fest practice at their home stadium.
Outside of the four preseason games, the Heinz Field event will be the highest-profile competition for Boswell and Wright this summer.
This is the third year the Steelers have held a night practice at Heinz Field, and special teams coach Danny Smith has scheduled field-goal drills each time.
“I would be doing them a disservice if we went down there and did some other things and didn’t get them an opportunity to kick,” Smith said Saturday.
Attention on Boswell will be heightened after his poor 2018 season.
Competition was created after Boswell converted only 13 of 20 field-goal attempts and missed five extra points. Boswell’s inconsistency also was enough for the Steelers to convince him to delay receiving his $2 million roster bonus until after the fourth preseason game when final roster decisions are made.
Boswell and Wright, who kicked at Central Florida, haven’t missed a field goal in training camp, with both converting a kick from 50-plus yards.
“Has it been pressure stuff?” Smith said. “We try to build up the pressure to do that. It’s not real pressure until you get into a game.”
The atmosphere Sunday night will be the next best thing. Smith said the kickers will attempt hurry-up field goals and will kick toward the goalposts at each end of Heinz Field.
“We try to mix it into a team setting as well,” Smith said. “If we’re in a third-down, red-zone deal, if we don’t make it, let’s run the field-goal team out there and get that situation.”
Smith will take a similar approach with incumbent punter Jordan Berry and undrafted free agent Ian Berryman.
“If we’re backed up coming out, and we don’t get a first down, let’s put the punt team out there and see where we deliver the ball to the offense,” Smith said. “We’ve created more situations for those guys in preparation for game-like conditions, and that’s been pretty good for us so far.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .