PITTSBURGH (AP) – Chris Boswell didn’t watch the end of Josh Scobee’s brief tenure kicking for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Probably a good idea.
Scobee’s shaky start devolved into a full-out collapse late in a 23-20 loss last week to the Baltimore Ravens. The 12-year veteran missed a pair of kicks in the final minutes, either of which would have given the Steelers a 6-point lead. Both kicks drifted left and the Ravens rallied to tie it at the end of regulation and win in overtime.
Scobee was out of a job less than 48 hours later, replaced by Boswell, who has never appeared in a regular season game but performed well enough in a tryout at Heinz Field on Saturday to become Pittsburgh’s fourth kicker in two months. Shaun Suisham and Garrett Hartley didn’t make it out of preseason due to injury while Scobee’s issues were strictly performance related. He made just six of 10 field goals and missed an extra point during a largely forgettable month in Pittsburgh after being acquired in a trade with Jacksonville.
Scobee admitted after the loss that figuring out how to kick in the potluck weather of western Pennsylvania would take some getting used to, particularly at the open end of Heinz Field, which is where well-struck balls often go to die. Some mechanical issues didn’t help.
“(Scobee) was trying to work through some things in practice,” long snapper Greg Warren said. “For whatever reason, he couldn’t get things to work out.”
Enter Boswell, a 24-year-old who enjoyed a standout career at Rice and spent time with the Houston Texans during the 2014 preseason and the New York Giants this summer but was unable to unseat the incumbents on either team. He was working out back home in Dallas when he got a call from his agent that the Steelers were in the market for a fresh face. On a chilly, blustery Saturday, he did enough to earn the chance to travel with the Steelers (2-2) when they play at San Diego (2-2) next Monday.
“It’s all about timing for a kicker,” Boswell said. “If you have a chance, take advantage of it.”
Boswell appears to have the leg strength to cut through the swirling winds at Heinz Field. He made 13 of 22 field goals from 50 yards or more during his collegiate career and didn’t miss a kick during either of his preseason stints.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers kept track of Boswell and didn’t hesitate to reach out when it became obvious a change was necessary.
Boswell’s job will be to keep the job. That’s hardly a given right now as kickers all over the league struggle. Change has become so commonplace this season in Pittsburgh that Boswell’s locker – the same one used by Scobee – didn’t even have Boswell’s number (9) taped over it when he finished his first practice with the team on Monday.
While he’s never been in position to kick a game-winner at any point, he’s not exactly concerned about being hit with a sudden bout of the jitters.
“Kicking is kicking,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter who is watching. If it’s on your own. If it’s Monday night football. You want to take the same mental preparation into every single kick. You can’t take kicks off. Just kind of the same mental attitude every single kick.”
NOTES: Tomlin said Tuesday that LB Ryan Shazier (shoulder) is questionable after missing the last two weeks with a stinger. … WR Markus Wheaton (ankle) and CB Cortez Allen (knee) appear to be ready to go. … Tomlin offered no update on QB Ben Roethlisberger, who remains out indefinitely with a sprained left knee, saying only the Steelers are pleased with Roethlisberger’s progress.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)