Steelers Rumors

Steelers To Stick With Chris Boswell

The Steelers won’t be getting rid of Chris Boswell after all. The club worked out kickers after Boswell’s rough showing against the Raiders, but they have decided against making a chance at this time, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets

On Wednesday, the Steelers brought in Kai Forbath and Matt McCrane for a competition on the practice field alongside Boswell. Forbath apparently had a strong workout and was kept in Pittsburgh overnight after his audition. But, on Thursday, Boswell responded with a strong practice, and the Steelers decided to ride it out with the fourth-year pro.

To help Boswell get back on the right track, the Steelers have brought in old friend Shaun Suisham to work with him, according to Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette (on Twitter). Boswell has been undeniably bad this season, but there’s reason to believe in his leg after he sank 92.1% of his field goal tries in 2017 and earned his first ever Pro Bowl nod.

Of course, Boswell’s contract is also a factor here. In the offseason, the Steelers inked Boswell to a new four-year, $19.2MM extension and cutting him would result in upwards of $6MM in dead money.

Boswell and the Steelers will look to snap a three-game losing streak on Sunday when they face the Patriots.

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Steelers Still Considering Kai Forbath

Free agent kicker Kai Forbath was impressive during his Wednesday workout with the Steelers, and Pittsburgh is “keeping him on hold” while they determine a course of action with incumbent Chris Boswell, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Boswell’s fate with the Steelers could well rest on his performance during Thursday’s practice, per Fowler. Boswell missed two field goals against the Raiders on Sunday, including one that would have tied the game as regulation expired. All told this year, Boswell has missed six field goal attempts (leaving with him a conversion percentage that ranks last in the NFL) and five extra points. According to Football Outsiders’ special teams metrics, the Steelers’ kicking game is the second-worst in the league.

Steelers To Work Out Kickers

The Steelers are giving serious thought to moving on from kicker Chris Boswell. On Wednesday, the club flew in free agent kickers Kai Forbath and Matt McCrane to compete with the incumbent kicker, sources tell Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

Days after Boswell missed two field goals, including a game tying try, against the Raiders, head coach Mike Tomlin admitted that he would consider alternatives. He also noted the general lack of quality options in the free agent pool and he was therefore undecided on whether to audition other kickers. After some consideration, the Steelers opted to open up a competition.

Boswell’s miss at the end of Sunday’s game can be attributed to the bad turf in Oakland, but the rest of his struggles this year cannot be written off. Of course, this comes just months after the Steelers gave him a four-year, $19.2MM extension with a $6MM roster bonus, which may complicate the final decision.

The division-leading Steelers finish out the year against the Patriots, Saints, and Bengals. Thanks to a three-game losing streak, they lead the Ravens by just 0.5 games for the AFC North crown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers May Move On From Chris Boswell

After Chris Boswell‘s slip cost them a chance to beat the Raiders on Sunday, the Steelers are considering a change at kicker. At his weekly news conference on Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin admitted that the team will “explore” alternatives. 

We acknowledge that Chris has struggled. He has struggled to find consistent footing,” Tomlin said (via WTAE). “We are willing to explore options that give us the best chances of the ball going through the uprights this week. That being said, those options include Chris.”

Boswell’s botched attempt to tie the game can be blamed on the poor turf at Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, but he also missed a 39-yard kick in the first half and got lucky on an extra point try that went through after hitting the upright. All in all, he’s made just 10 of 16 field goal tries this year and has missed five extra points. It’s a far cry from his work last year – Boswell sank 35 of 38 field goal attempts in 2017 and made 37 of his 39 XPs.

It remains to be seen when or if the Steelers will audition other kickers. Their frustration with Boswell is understandable, but there aren’t a ton of quality kickers available at this stage of the season.

At this time of the year, we are cognizant of what’s available, and we realize it’s prudent to include Chris in those options,” Tomlin said. “His performance merits us turning stones over and looking at options.”

The Steelers dropped to 7-5-1 and extended their losing streak to three games with Sunday’s heartbreaking loss. With three games to go, they’ll fight to stave off the Ravens for the AFC North title.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Roethlisberger Injury Not Serious

  • Ben Roethlisberger missed most of the second half in the Steelers‘ loss to the Raiders with a rib injury, but is expected to be fine and play next week against the Patriots, Schefter writes in a separate tweet. Joshua Dobbs filled in for Roethlisberger today, and Big Ben’s absence ended up costing the team the game as they scored zero points with Dobbs under center. The Steelers are just 7-6-1 and in danger of falling out of the playoffs with a very tough upcoming schedule, so they’ll need Roethlisberger at full strength.

James Conner To Return In Week 15?

2018 revelation James Conner had his magical season sidetracked when he suffered an injury — which some sources believe is a high ankle sprain — during the Steelers’ loss to the Chargers last Sunday. However, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes that Conner “has a chance” to be back in action for Pittsburgh’s potentially critical matchup with the Patriots next week.

The Steelers are only 1/2 game up on the Ravens in the AFC North, but Baltimore will face a stiff test against the Chiefs in Kansas City this afternoon while Pittsburgh gets a favorable matchup in Oakland. But even if the Steelers can put some distance between themselves and Baltimore today, they still need to deal with New England and New Orleans, so they would love to get Conner back for the stretch run.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also hears that Conner could be back next week, though Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is a little less optimistic (video link). Rapoport says that Conner will be reevaluated tomorrow and that the Steelers are expected to be cautious with him. As such, Conner could miss the team’s Week 15 bout against the Pats. Speculatively, if the Steelers win today and the Ravens lose, Pittsburgh may be more inclined to hold Conner out for another week.

Jaylen Samuels, whom the Steelers selected in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, is expected to get the bulk of the touches in Conner’s absence. Luckily for Pittsburgh, Samuels, like Conner, is a talented receiver out of the backfield, so the Steelers should not have to alter their offensive approach to accommodate him.

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NFL Workout Updates: 12/4/18

Here is the latest from the workout circuit. All links to NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account, unless otherwise noted.

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Redskins

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/4/18

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Atlanta Falcons

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins

Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Redskins

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/4/18

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Steelers’ James Conner To Miss Time

Steelers running back James Conner has been ruled out for this week’s game against the Raiders, coach Mike Tomlin announced. Initially, Conner was believed to have suffered a minor contusion, but it turns out that he has a slightly more serious sprain that will keep him out of action for at least one game. 

Conner, 23, has exceeded all expectations this year in place of star Le’Veon Bell. In 12 games (eleven starts), Conner has amassed 909 yards off of 201 carries (4.5 yards-per-carry average) and 12 rushing touchdowns. He’s also caught 52 passes for 467 yards and one receiving score, showing that he’s a more than adequate replacement for one of the sport’s most dynamic weapons.

Naturally, the Steelers will still go into Sunday’s game against Oakland as heavy favorites, even though they’re on the road. With a win, the Steelers can further solidify their odds of making the playoffs while taking another step closer towards the AFC North title.

With Conner on the sidelines, Stevan Ridley and Jaylen Samuels are expected to lead the way at running back. Meanwhile, the club will hope to get Conner back on the field for a huge Week 15 matchup against the Patriots.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.