Steelers Pro Bowler Returns to Practice

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers saw one of their Pro Bowlers return to practice on December 8.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could get a lift on special teams for the stretch run of the 2022 season.

Pittsburgh announced on December 8 that kicker Chris Boswell returned to practice, which began the 21-day window for him to return from injured reserve.

Boswell last kicked on October 23 against the Miami Dolphins. He missed Week 8 because of a groin injury. The ailment didn’t improvement during the team’s bye week at the beginning of November, so the Steelers placed the 2017 Pro Bowler on IR on November 10.

Stints on injured reserve require players to miss at least four games. Boswell missed his fourth contest since going on IR on December 4.

Boswell Could Return From IR Soon

While Boswell can practice for three weeks before the Steelers have to make a final decision on his availability for the rest of the season, the team probably wouldn’t have started his 21-day window if he wasn’t close to returning.

So even though Boswell remains on IR, his return to practice is a great sign. The Steelers can activate him at any point through December 28.

Boswell wasn’t quite as sharp as he normally is at the beginning of this season, but his return should still be a confidence booster for Pittsburgh. Boswell has made 87.4% of his field goal attempts in eight NFL seasons.

He is 12-for-16 this year (75.0%), but from 2019-21, the 31-year-old kicker was successful on 92.3% of his field goals. During that span, he was also 10-for-12 on attempts of 50 yards or longer.

Last season, Boswell nailed 8-of-9 tries from 50 yards or longer.

With his return to practice, the Steelers have 21 days to active Boswell. If that window expires without Pittsburgh moving the 31-year-old to the active roster, then he must spend the rest of the season on injured reserve.

Matthew Wright Emerging as Quality Kicker

One factor that could determine how quickly the Steelers activate Boswell is the current Steelers kicking situation.

Matthew Wright has taken over kicking duties for Pittsburgh over the last four weeks. After a rocky start versus the New Orleans Saints, Wright has made 10 straight field goal attempts.

He went 7-for-7 in Weeks 12 and 13 combined, both of which were 1-possession wins for the Steelers. On December 4, Wright was 4-for-4, with 3 successful 45-plus yard attempts, in a 19-16 victory against the Atlanta Falcons.

It’s a small sample size, but in 23 career NFL games, Wright has made 87.0% of his field goal attempts. He’s also 35-for-37 on extra-point tries.

There’s no question that Boswell is still the superior kicker, but the Steelers don’t have to rush back his return since Wright has been kicking well over the last few weeks.

Before Wright took over in Week 10, Nick Sciba served as Pittsburgh’s kicker during Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Sciba was 2-for-2 on field goals and made his only extra point.

Whomever is kicking for the Steelers this Sunday figures to play a key role in Week 14. Not only is Pittsburgh averaging 3.5 field goal tries over the last four weeks, but 19 of the last 31 matchups between the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens have been decided by 4 points or fewer.

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