Early returns encouraging

Kicker Chris Boswell maintained midway through OTAs he was "hitting the ball really well."

Special teams coordinator Danny Smith punctuated the opening of mandatory veteran minicamp today by concurring.

“I agree with that, I really do,” Smith insisted this afternoon. “Obviously, we need an improvement there. He’s been very good in the OTAs. He’s been very good and it’s gotta carry into the team setting. We put him in team settings and he’s responded. We know what he’s capable of, that’s a positive.

“We have to get back to what he was capable of and what he showed us and that’s where we’re headed and that’s what he’s done so far.”

Boswell made 35 of 38 field goal attempts (92.1 percent) in 2017.

Last season he was only able to convert 13 of 20 (65 percent) and also missed five extra points before winding up on the reserve/injured list for the Steelers’ regular-season finale against Cincinnati.

Adjustments have been made, but Boswell didn’t want to discuss those during OTAs.

That was a decision with which Smith, likewise, agreed.

The Steelers participate in Day 1 of the 2019 minicamp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex

"It ain’t really out there for the public what he and I discuss, or ‘I saw this step,’ or ‘this foot,’ or ‘this swing,’ or this and that. It obviously was off, and it wasn’t acceptable. We’ve made corrections and we’ve worked hard at it together and I’ve seen a great deal of improvement.

“I’m in the mindset he’s gotta be the guy we had two years ago, and right now it looks like that’s what we got. We’ll see when we get into the team settings.”

Smith is of the opinion the answer to the Boswell question will reveal itself eventually, and that it will be obvious.

“You’ll know it as well as I’ll know it,” Smith maintained to a small cluster of media following the first practice of minicamp. “We’ll see that together. When we get in those critical situations, you ain’t gonna have to ask me. You’re gonna know and I’m gonna know. He hits that game-winner like he did, he hits that long one like he did, he’s banging balls, you ain’t gonna come looking for me.

“But once that son of a (gun) goes wide right and we’re off that field, 19-17, on the wrong end, you come looking for me. We’re gonna see that together. We’ll find out real quick.”

Smith considers a bounce-back season for Boswell as conceivable as it is necessary.

“If there’s a bounce back it happens quick,” Smith said. “Guys have had bad years, that’s in all sports. You take a Pirate, you take a Penguin, you take a Steeler, everybody has had bad years and yeah, they’re quite capable of bouncing back.

“We’ll see that soon. If he’s gonna bounce back, he’s gonna make it. It ain’t gonna be 50-50. It ain’t gonna be part time. He’s either back or he ain’t, and we’ll handle that appropriately.

“The key is to put him in those situations. The key is for him to get in a game and hit those game-winners like he’s capable and he’s done. He looks very good and I’m very pleased at where he’s at today, but today we ain’t winning games. We’ll see when we get in that game setting and, like I say, you’ll see it just as soon as I’ll see it.”

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