Sometimes all it takes is a different voice. A voice who has been there, done that.
And for Chris Boswell, that voice was former Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham.
The Steelers brought Suisham to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex last week to work with Boswell, who has had his struggles this season. Going into last week’s game against the Patriots he had missed six field goals, including two against the Oakland Raiders, and five extra points. The team even brought in two kickers to compete with him for his roster spot, with Boswell eventually winning the competition.
Special teams coordinator Danny Smith, who coached Suisham too, reached out to him to see if he would be willing to help Boswell. He never hesitated. Suisham didn’t come in to ‘coach’ Boswell, rather to talk to him, work with him and offer some advice. Smith offered a breakdown of how the whole scenario took place.
“People wonder about those things all of the time,” said Smith. “All of these kickers have kicking coaches. Just like everybody has a strength coach and everybody’s got a conditioning guy. That is the world we live in.
“I called Shaun on the way home one night because Shaun knows me and I know Shaun. Shaun and I were in a similar situation together, an exact situation together. His experience affected me. A kicker to kicker kind of thing. I called Shaun and asked him what he was doing. We were talking. We talk quite often. We got specific about kicking and techniques and situations like that. I told him I might call you in the next couple of days, are you going to be in town. He said yes. That was it. I know him, he knows me. We speak the same language. I coached him.
“I bounced it off Mike Tomlin, what do you think about Shaun coming by. He said I think it’s a great idea. The next couple of nights I called Shaun told him this is what I want to do. He and I have been through the exact situation. I had him come in at a specific time, we watched some film, and just was another voice. When a kicker talks to a kicker, they speak a different language. It’s not good, bad, right, or wrong. It’s a process.
“It was a good thing to do. Shaun is awesome. I think it was excellent. Shaun did a great job doing what we asked him to do. It’s not coaching. It’s a friendly voice that has had some more experience. We all look for that when we are struggling. I thought it was a good thing to do and I am glad we did it. Hopefully the results continue to improve.”
Against the Patriots Boswell missed a 32-yard field goal wide right, but came back at a crucial time in the game and hit a 48-yard field goal, giving the Steelers a 17-10 lead they would hold on to.
Smith doesn’t anticipate having Suisham come back, hoping that the initial visit did the trick.
“He has had the same experience. They can relate,” said Smith. “They have been there in that heat. It was spur of the moment. The right guy in the right situation. A guy we know. He is a Steeler and wants us to be successful as anybody in the city.”