Chris Boswell will have to compete for Steelers' job

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  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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As the saga of the Steelers carries on with Le'Veon Bell now a free agent, Antonio Brown likely to be traded and Ben Roethlisberger's leadership called into question, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert addressed the messy drama this past week in a scrum with local reporters.

Somewhat overlooked, much as it was in the shadows of all the superstars' spotlight this past season, was the trying campaign of kicker Chris Boswell.

Perhaps it's worth pondering whether all the drama would have played out as it did had Boswell been better, considering the impact his misses had on the Steelers' fortunes. After all, Boswell converted a career-low 65 percent of his field goals and maybe most telling missed seven kicks (point-after attempts and field goals) in five games Pittsburgh did not win, including a season-opening 21-21 tie with the Browns in which he misfired on a game-winning 42-yard field goal. That tie set the tone for the roller-coaster ride that was Pittsburgh's playoff-less 9-6-1 season.

"The drop-off with Chris Boswell was surprising, disappointing and this is something that Chris shares with us like we share with him," Colbert said via a transcript from his scrum. "We believe that Chris Boswell has the ability to do better than he did, he has already proven that. He set a standard for himself in 2017, as a Pro Bowl player and last year statistically he was one of the worst kickers and that's a huge drop-off."

Boswell's statistics are clear evidence of his trials and tribulations during a season he ended on injured reserve with a groin injury. In 20 attempts, he converted an unlucky 13 field goals. The 65 percent kicks converted, the 13 field goals and the 20 attempts were all career-lows and the percentage was the second-worst in the league ahead of only Zane Gonzalez (nine of 14 for 64.3 percent), who played in only seven games for two teams. Boswell made 43 of 48 extra points with his 89.6 point-after percentage third-worst in the league.

As the Steelers struggled out of the gate to a 1-1-1 record, Boswell's difficulties ran parallel as he was only one of four on field goals and nine of 11 on PATs. In a stunning Week 13 defeat at Oakland, the four-year pro missed two field goals and the Steelers lost, 24-21.

Bell, Brown and Big Ben drew a lot of headlines and controversy, but 'Bos' had a tumultuous season and his future in Pittsburgh could be up in the air.

"As a young player we also believe that he can find his way out of that and we will support him in that attempt," Colbert said. "Does that mean that he won't have competition? Absolutely not. We signed a kid, Matt McCrane, when we put Boswell on reserve/injured and Matt did a nice job in that Cincinnati game kicking the field goals that helped us win that game. Could we add another young player into that mix? Sure. There will be competition for 'Bos.'"

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