Steelers Inside the Ropes: Chris Boswell splits uprights in Heinz Field test
Chris Boswell got his first chance to kick at Heinz Field since December, and the fifth-year kicker responded Sunday night by making seven of eight field-goal attempts in the Pittsburgh Steelers third-annual Family Fest practice at their home stadium.
Boswell’s competition, undrafted free agent Matthew Wright of Central Florida, made five of his eight field-goal tries.
Special teams coach Danny Smith aligned the schedule so his kickers would get work kicking in the closed and open ends of Heinz Field. At the closed end, Boswell and Wright each were successful from 33 and 39 yards. Wright missed his attempt from 37 yards (Boswell made his attempt), and both missed from 50 yards.
The kickers then trotted to the other end of the field. Both kickers converted from 33 yards, then 41, then 42. Boswell converted from 54, and Wright missed from that distance.
“We’re just getting started and exposing him to some pressure,” coach Mike Tomlin said about Boswell, who missed seven field goals and five extra points last year.
• The Steelers implemented their goal-line offense for the first time in practice. With Maurkice Pouncey leaving early with a minor injury, the line consisted of center B.J. Finney, guards Ramon Foster and Matt Feiler, and tackles Alejandro Villanueva and Chuks Okorafor. Tackle Jerald Hawkins served as the blocking tight end.
In each instance, the ball was placed inside the 2.
With fullback Roosevelt Nix blocking, James Conner scored on his first try. On the second snap, with Jaylen Samuels in the backfield, Mason Rudolph threw incomplete on a play-action pass intended for Vance McDonald. Samuels scored on the next play, taking it wide to the left.
It took two tries for Benny Snell to find the end zone. After being stuffed up the middle, Snell followed a pulling Feiler around the left end and scored.
Finally, Trey Edmunds scored on his first attempt, running up the middle of the defense.
• In the Seven Shots 2-point simulation that opens each practice, the defense scored a 4-3 win.
Josh Dobbs went 1 for 4, throwing a touchdown to Xavier Grimble on his first attempt. Rudolph worked with the second team and went 2 for 3. After throwing incomplete to James Washington, Rudolph rebounded with a touchdown strike to the second-year receiver from Oklahoma State. On the final snap, Rudolph split two defenders and threw a touchdown pass to Ryan Switzer.
• Outside linebacker T.J. Watt returned to practice after being activated from the physically unable to perform list. The extent of Watt’s work was limited to individual drills early in practice.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .