Home Steelers 2023 Season SCB Steelers 2023 Training Camp Preview – Specialists

SCB Steelers 2023 Training Camp Preview – Specialists

by Steeldad

It may seem like the Pittsburgh Steelers were just putting the cap on their 2022 season but believe it or not Training Camp is right around the corner. As the Steelers prepare for their trip East to Latrobe, we’re getting ready too. We’ll be previewing the 90 players participating at St. Vincent College position by position. In this article we look at the specialists.

Currently on the Roster

Chris Boswell – 9th year
B.T. Potter – Rookie
Christian Kuntz – 3rd year
Rex Sunahara – 1st year
Pressley Harvin III – 3rd year
Braden Mann – 4th year
Numerous Return Specialists

Chris Boswell

No kicker in Steelers’ history has played in more games and scored as many points as Chris Boswell. He comes off a 2022 season in which he played in just 12 games due to injury. It was also his second worst season and most disappointing since his 2018 campaign which was also marred by injury. While he was a perfect 18 for 18 on his PATs, his field goal percentage was (20/28) 71% which suggests he was probably not 100% even while playing. Boswell is not in jeopardy of losing his job by any means, but he does need to bounce back or the questions will be many in 2024.

2022 stats:
12 games
18/18 PATs
20/28 FGs
Long 59 yards

B.T. Potter

Tremendous experience having kicked all four years at Clemson. Potter has a big leg for kickoffs banging over 70% of them deep enough for touchbacks. That’s on over 400 kickoffs. His biggest issue however is the intermediate range where he’s been successful on just 70% of his kicks between 30 and 49 yards. Like all kickers who come in to compete with Boswell, he’s here to get keep Boswell’s workload low and to give the Steelers an option should another injury occur.

Christian Kuntz

Long snappers used to have three main jobs. Snap accurately, block and get down-field (on punts anyway). With defensive players no longer allowed to line up over the snapper, the blocking isn’t quite what it once was. Kuntz has been extremely reliable and I see no reason why that won’t continue.

Rex Sunahara

Much like they do with kickers and punters, the Steelers routinely bring in a long snapper to lessen the load on the perceived starter in Camp but too also get a look at how these long shots will perform. You have to do your homework in case the injury bug hits. Sunahara just needs to take care of business so that he gives himself a chance if called upon later or by another team.

Pressley Harvin III

Let me be blunt; Harvin has not lived up to expectations. In roughly the same amount of punts as his rookie year, Harvin was slightly better or worse in terms of yards per punt, touchbacks and inside the 20. Unfortunately there just hasn’t been any consistency at all and when the team needs one of those big punts to flip the field he just doesn’t come through enough. I don’t think he’s going to be handed the job (as he was last year) despite being the favorite. He’s going to have to earn it this time around.

2022 stats:
69 punts
44.5 average
45 inside the 20

Braden Mann

In his three seasons with the NY Jets, Mann punted over 200 times. If he were “just a guy” brought in to take some reps from Harvin so as not to tire him out then he wouldn’t have been a starter elsewhere. I fully expect Mann to challenge Harvin. Because Harvin was drafted, the Steelers typically give those guys the benefit of the doubt but I think that’s out the window now. Mann has to be given a genuine chance for the job.

2022 stats:
83 punts
46.9 average
27 inside the 20

Possible Return Specialists

Jordan Byrd

He’s really the only ‘true’ return man on the roster. He was an honorable mention All-American return man last season for San Diego State. He has tremendous speed and average almost 25 yards per return. He also had kick returns for touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. He also has 67 career punt returns as well.

Calvin Austin III

Honestly? We have no idea what to expect from Austin after he missed his first season. As a return man, Austin had just five punt returns his senior season but he averaged 27 yards per pop and scored a TD. His junior season saw him return 20 punts but his average was just under 10 with one score. He has no experience returning kickoffs.

Anthony McFarland

He has just three career kickoff returns that saw him average 24 yards per return. I view him very much as an ’emergency’ return guy.

Gunner Olszewski

One can only wonder what may have happened had he not muffed that punt against New England. It led to a touchdown in what turned out to be a 17-14 Pats’ win. He would have just eight PRs all season and averaged about 6.9 yards per return. In the kickoff department he return only three for an average of 15 yards. During his three seasons in New England, he returned 66 punts and 36 kickoffs so there’s plenty of experience. The question is whether Mike Tomlin and Danny Sullivan have confidence in him and can he stick as a sixth receiver.

Roster Projections

Boswell, Harvin, Kuntz (KR/PR to be determined)

Mann, Sunahara, Potter, Byrd – Cut

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