When the Falcons released four players, including punter Ken Parrish, on Wednesday morning the writing on the wall said rookie Matt Bosher was the winner of the punter job for the Atlanta Falcons.
But if you ask the 2011 sixth-round pick from Miami, he's still going as hard as ever, not slowing down to enjoy the scenery, knowing that he's the only punter in town. When asked repeatedly on Wednesday afternoon about how he felt, he shot everything down, reminding everyone that his focus is in one place.
"I'm just trying to stay calm and get ready for Pittsburgh this week," Bosher said. "They're a great team and went to the Super Bowl last year. I just have to focus and be ready for this week and I'm looking forward to the opportunity of playing up in Pittsburgh."
Bosher, surrounded by media, wouldn't even share how he was delivered the news, implying that he's not been told that he's won anything, which he seems to be OK with. The punter would only say that he noticed, like any player, when a player is no longer present at practice. Beyond that, the only thing he's paying attention to is the job he's expected to do in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
The two-time, first-team All-ACC player had an adjustment to make once he arrived in Atlanta. With the departure of the team's former punter, Michael Koenen, Bosher was expected to learn to hold on field goal tries, the first time in his career he's done so. Surrounded by a veteran cast as he learned on the job, he said it's been a smooth experience.
"It's a learning process but it's something that (special teams) Coach (Keith) Armstrong, Matt Bryant and Joe Zelenka make easy," he said. "Joe's been awesome. He puts the ball right there every time. It's no work for me. Matt's really helped me out a lot, showing me how he wants the ball and how to get it there."
One of the ways Bosher has earned his team's respect and caught the coaches' eye, other than with his punting prowess, has been the tackles he's made on special teams. Through two games this season, he's credited with two tackles, a rarity for a punter. It's part of a mindset he has that came from the toughness that is preached at the University of Miami and carried on here in Atlanta.
"That's something Coach Armstrong preaches," he said. "If you're a kicker and you miss a tackle, you're treated just like anybody else. You have to make the tackle and get up there and put your hat on someone; make a play."
He feels it shows he's a little more athletic than what is often expected at his position. While he's the last player on the field expected to make a tackle, he's shown, even during his days at Miami, that he isn't someone that should be ignored.
"Playing football you have to be somewhat athletic, but I'm a kicker and I have one job: to make sure I put the ball downfield and get good hang time on it," he said. "Whatever happens after that, I've got to be a good football player and try to make a play."
Atlanta's made a point of trying to add playmakers everywhere on the field. They may have done so at the punter's position as well, with the addition of Bosher.
Ray Edwards Update:Head coach Mike Smith has said all along, since the information about Ray Edwards' surgery came out, that the coaching staff was trying to bring the free-agent acquisition along slowly.
The process picked up considerably this week and he appears to be worked back into the full-team participation. Smith said on Wednesday, barring complications from his practice involvement, Edwards is expected to be on the field against the Steelers on Saturday.
"Right now, we're anticipating that Ray will be going this week," Smith said. "We're going to get our first snaps with him. In terms of number of saps, we'll wait and see again if there are any setbacks from today's practice that could change it, but I doubt that. We look forward to seeing him out on the field."
Injury News:Smith shared that cornerback Chris Owens was held out of practice on Wednesday with tightness in his hamstring. He called the missed practice "precautionary measures." Defensive end Lawrence Sidbury returned to practice, but did not practice fully.
Owens and Dominique Franks are still in a heated battle for the nickelback position. The injury to Owens leaves the Falcons thin at cornerback. Starter Dunta Robinson has missed more than a week of practice, was held out last week against Jacksonville and likely will not play Saturday against Pittsburgh. Smith said if Owens is unable to go, Franks will get the snaps opposite Brent Grimes and undrafted free agent Darrin Walls will rotate in at nickel on sub-package plays.
Pittsburgh Expectations:Smith said most of the players that will appear on the final roster this year will play extended time this week against the Steelers. A team's starters have traditionally played into the second half in the preseason's third game. There's a game plan being put in this week that is more extensive than normal and Smith hopes to see improvement over the first two weeks of the preseason.
Smith gave hints that he wants a similar kind of explosive offense that he saw out the first half of Week 1 when Matt Ryan and the starters put up 17 points. He expects his offense to put points up now, no matter the defense.
"We want to get out there and move the football and ultimately the way that you're judged is by the number of points that you put on the scoreboard," he said. "We'd really like to see a clean, efficient first half from that group."
With the addition of Edwards, Smith is excited to see many of his parts on defense on the field at the same time. He's interested to see what they can do against a physical, hard-nosed offense in Pittsburgh. Just as he anticipates certain things from his offense, the same applies to his defense. For him, the gauge for how well his defense is doing is how they manage to disrupt Pittsburgh's quarterback.
"The thing that I'd like to see and that we would like to see is that we control the quarterback," Smith said. "That's a quarterback that can extend plays. He's a big strong guy that you have to get on the ground and that's going be, when they throw the football, something that we're going to have to do because he can throw the ball 55 to 60 yards down the field."