The Pittsburgh Steelers currently have two punters on their roster—Jordan Berry and Corliss Waitman—but they have apparently decided to bring in another for a tryout. According to TSN Football Insider Farhan Lalji, the Steelers plan to work out punter Richie Leone on Tuesday, with COVID- 19 testing required beforehand.
Leone recently opted out of his Canadian Football League (CFL) contract in hopes of securing a spot in the NFL.
Leone, 28, started his CFL career with the BC Lions before joining the Ottawa Redblacks in 2018. He is a three-time CFL all-star punter who has a 48.3 yard average in 71 career games, with 83 yards his career long.
Most notably, he also has professional experience as a placekicker, kickoff man and holder, so it’s possible the Steelers are looking at him for a place on the team’s practice squad, where he could serve as an emergency punter/holder and placekicker should, say, Jordan Berry or Chris Boswell be sidelined for any reason.
Richie Leone’s NFL Experience
Richie Leone signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in May 2014 after going unselected in the 2014 NFL Draft, but was cut in August 2014. He signed a reserve/futures contract with the Steelers in January 2015 but was waived by Pittsburgh in May 2015. After the 2016 CFL season Leone signed a contract with the Arizona Cardinals, but failed to make the team’s 53-man roster.
Leone played his college football at the University of Houston where he was the starter for four consecutive seasons. At Houston he punted a total of 219 times with an average of 43.1 yards. He totaled 79 punts inside the 20 yard line, 87 fair catches, and only 18 touchbacks. He also holds the school’s career record for punts over 50 yards with 54. In 2013 he earned Second-Team All-America honors by placing 46.6 percent of his punts inside the 20 and 22.2 percent inside the 10.
Leone also kicked off 243 times during his college career, with 74 kickoffs resulting in touchbacks.
Richie Leone’s Connection to Chris Boswell
According to KHOU-11 in Houston, the Roswell, Georgia native trained with Steelers placekicker Chris Boswell during the runup to the 2014 NFL Combine and Draft, noting that “the two have developed a good relationship over the years, despite the rivalry that exists” between Houston and Rice University, where Boswell starred.
“There is a great deal of respect, mutually for us and he’s a great kicker,” Leone said at the time.
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