Been there, done that

The process of sorting through alternatives at place kicker played out as business as usual for Chris Boswell this afternoon.

"Normal Wednesday that I've had for the last four years now," Boswell said. "Working with (special teams coordinator) Danny (Smith), we trust what were doing. We just have to find the answers."

Boswell was put on notice on Tuesday by head coach Mike Tomlin, who said the Steelers would "explore options" at the position, options that would "include Chris."

Boswell missed two field goal attempts in last Sunday's 24-21 loss to the Raiders in Oakland, including what would have been a game-tying kick from 40 yards away with five seconds left in regulation.

He's 10-for-16 on field goals this season and has missed five extra points.

"I've been in that situation before," Boswell said. "I came here off the street. I was cut many times before that. I've kind of always had my back against the wall since coming out of college.

"That's the position I'm in right now. We'll just see what happens from here."

Elsewhere in the locker room today at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex:

WE'RE TALKIN' 'BOUT PRACTICE: Safety Sean Davis had said in the immediate aftermath of the loss to the Raiders that the secondary would seek solutions in practice this week.

Today was the first step in that direction.

"I saw the defense running to the ball more," Davis reported. "We're all just trying to pursue greatness, man. We gotta make changes and I feel like we're doing that. Practice has changed, we're all correcting each other a little bit more. We're really trying to do a little more self-policing."

Another goal is to make more plays on the ball.

"It comes down to technique, making plays on the ball rather than just tackling the catch, and pursuit from everybody else," Davis said. "We get 11 hats running to the ball, then that's going to create chaos.

"The DBs, if we all play true to our technique, true to our leverage, tight coverage, eyes where they're supposed to be at, then we're going to be able to be close to the receivers and make plays on the ball rather than tackling the catch."

The Steelers prepare for the Week 15 matchup against the New England Patriots

IT STARTS NOW: This Sunday's game against the Patriots isn't a single-elimination game, but it might as well be according to tight end Jesse James.

The Steelers will host the Patriots having lost three in a row and leading the Baltimore Ravens by a half-game in the AFC North Division.

"This is playoff football for us right now," he said. "We have to win this game no matter what."

WHAT, ME WORRY?: Center Maurkice Pouncey maintained the Steelers are as confident as ever despite their recent struggles.

"Things will be all right, trust me," he said. "We know we had some things we had in the last couple games we (messed) up and didn't do right. We know where we're at as a team and we know what we have on this team.

"Things will be all right."

DEFENSIVE RESPONSE: Defensive end Cam Heyward said its up to each member of the defense to accept responsibility for and contribute to solving the unit's late-game struggles of late.

"It's time to get to work," Heyward said. "It doesn't need to be said to the media. We just gotta knuckle up and get back to work, be honest with ourselves. These last three weeks we're not stepping up in critical situations. We all have to be held accountable for that.

"I look forward to solving these problems."

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