We wrap up our Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Previews for 2020 with a look at the specialists. These are the men who will do the kicking, punting, long snapping and returning for the Black and Gold this year. Is it as simple as it seems? Let’s take a look.
Other Position Previews: Click Here.
By The Numbers
2019 PATs: 28/28 100%
2019 Field Goals: 29/31 93.5%
2019 Punting: 74 punts for 3,368 yards for an average of 45.5 (16th in NFL)
2019 Punts Inside the 20: 24 (T-19th in NFL)
2019 Punt Returning: Diontae Johnson 20 PR for 248 yards (12.4 YPR 1st in NFL)
2019 Kick Returning: Kerrith Whyte 14 KR for 264 yards (18.9 YPR/Didn’t Qualify among league leaders)
Chris Boswell (6 seasons)
A year ago at this time Steeler Nation was wondering if Chris Boswell would get his mojo back following a dreadful 2018 campaign. The year prior, 2017, had been a Pro Bowl season for him. But Boswell righted the ship and had a terrific 2019 missing just two of 31 field goals and he was perfect on his PATs. We see no reason to suggest that Boswell won’t have another great season in 2020.
Jordan Berry (6 seasons)
Berry bounced back with a better season in 2019 than he had in 2018 but there’s still much that is lacking with the Australian. He seems to get worse as the months turn colder and his bobbled snap was a key reason the Steelers lost to the NYJ in week 16. It’s clear Danny Smith prefers him over anyone they’ve brought in and that doesn’t appear to be changing. His best asset is the ability to drop the ball inside the 20 but his lack of a big leg to flip the field is still a big problem in my mind.
Cam Kanaday (4 seasons)
Cam has been the main long snapper for the Steelers since the long-time placeholder Greg Warren departed. The position itself often goes unnoticed until the player performs poorly and fortunately Kanaday has done well.
PR – Diontae Johnson (2 seasons)
Johnson finally took over the punt return gig once Ryan Switzer was out for the year with an injury. It was a move that should have been made regardless due to Switzer’s ineffectiveness. Johnson’s electric return against the Arizona Cardinals was a huge reason for the victory out west and proved he deserved the job. I see no reason why he can’t handle the job this season as well.
KR – Kerrith Whyte (2 seasons)
With fewer and fewer kicks actually being returned in today’s NFL it’s crucial to have a guy that can make big returns and can make the right decisions as far as when to return kicks and when not to. Whyte showed some promise in this area and it could be the one reason he gets a call for the active roster.
Corliss Waitman (Rookie)
Waitman saw action in all four of his seasons at South Alabama but his junior and senior campaigns he was the primary punter. He averaged 45 and 41 yards on 70 and 67 punts respectively.
The Steelers don’t like change when it comes to their special teams units. Berry may be an average punter but he’s also Boswell’s holder on place kicks. Personally I don’t think that should be the defining thing here because Berry does nothing for me but Danny Smith will argue his necessity and likely win. Johnson should be the primary punt returner and Whyte will get first crack at kick returning but if he gets beat out at running back someone else will take the spot.
Roster: Boswell, Berry, Kanaday, Johnson, Whyte