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Pittsburgh Steelers kicker struggled to find the form that made him a Pro Bowler in 2017 — a mini meltdown that contributed to his team’s failure to reach the playoffs for the first time in five years — Boswell decided to just hang out back home in Texas and get to work.No kicking camps. No soul searching. No guru shopping. Outside of a trip to Paris that gave him a chance to propose to his now-fiance Jonah Williams Jersey , the 28-year-old kept it simple. Just like always.“I just kind of went home and decompressed a little bit,” Boswell said Tuesday. “Just kind of let everything sit in and I just kind of went from there. I didn’t really do anything special.”There really wasn’t any need. Boswell knows the Steelers didn’t hand him a five-year deal worth nearly $20 million last summer so he could make just 13 of 20 field goals and miss a league-worst five extra points. That contract — awarded after Boswell nailed a handful of game-winners for a club that finished 13-3 in 2017 — was a lucrative display of confidence in him.It also made it difficult for the Steelers to bail on Boswell — who signed with the team in 2015 after winning a tryout in the rain at Heinz Field — even as weeks went by last fall and the accuracy that defined his first three seasons in Pittsburgh abandoned him. He finished 2018 on injured reserve after tweaking his groin, then watched fill-in Matt McCrane earn the game ball after kicking three field goals in the regular-season finale against Cincinnati.That moment didn’t last for Boswell or McCrane. The Steelers did not re-sign McCrane during the offseason, bringing in rookie free agent Matthew Wright to serve as Boswell’s primary competition during organized team activities and minicamp. The Steelers are clearly banking on a bounce-back year from the player who became an integral part of the “Killer B’s” in 2017, when he made 35 of 38 field goals and developed a reputation for his resolve under pressure.Boswell has no plans to turn the next three months into an extended duel with Wright.“No matter who’s out here, it’s me versus me, it’s not me versus anybody,” Boswell said. “As long as I can conquer that, I should be pretty good.”That didn’t happen often enough last fall. The issues started early. Boswell missed a 42-yarder in overtime in the wind and rain in Week 1 in Cleveland, a game that ended in a tie. It was a sign of things to come. Boswell missed at least one kick — be it a field goal or an extra point — in nine games in 2018. He had 11 such games in his first three seasons in the NFL combined.The nadir came in a road loss to Oakland on Dec. 9. Footing on the always treacherous O.co Coliseum is always iffy. The Steelers used a hook-and-lateral play to get into field goal position in the final seconds. When Boswell planted his left foot for the 40-yard kick, he slipped. The ball smacked into the wall of linemen in front of him and he landed on his rear, a wildly uneven season boiled down to a wildly memorable play.The problem was equal parts mechanical and mental, though Boswell is reluctant to dive into details. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.“I’m going to stick to what I did going into my fourth year here,” he said. “It didn’t work last year. But I’m not just going to scratch everything. I’m here to do a job, and I’m going to focus on that job.”One that could be even more important for Pittsburgh in 2019. With former Killer B’s Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell now working elsewhere, the Steelers have a smaller margin of error, potentially amplifying the importance of every kick.“Personally, I didn’t make them last year. But I made them every other year. So I mean if it comes down to it, I’m there,” ”Boswell said. “I’m here to make kicks and whatever it is, first quarter, fourth quarter Elgton Jenkins Jersey , overtime. That’s what I’m here for.” FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The knuckle below Sam Darnold’s freckled right pinkie is still slightly out of place.It serves as a once-painful reminder that the New York Jets rookie quarterback needs to keep his emotions in check even in the most frustrating of circumstances.“I feel like I always remain calm,” Darnold said in a sit-down interview with The Associated Press, “just because I learned a hard lesson that day.”It came on a basketball court, of all places, courtesy of a crushed metal door.Darnold was a junior in high school when his San Clemente basketball squad was playing league-rival Trabuco Hills on Jan. 17, 2014. Darnold’s Tritons held a 14-point halftime lead and appeared on their way to an easy victory.Until they blew it.And then, Darnold completely lost it.Seething with anger, the Tritons’ leading scorer and rebounder who grew up loving the Los Angeles Lakers and dreaming of being the next Kobe Bryant, stormed off the court after the one-point loss. He did the only thing he thought would help ease the pain.He put his right fist through his locker.“At first, I didn’t realize it was broken,” Darnold recalled while lifting his hand and pointing to his knuckle. “You can see it right there. I just punched it because I was so mad and I just sat there (ticked) off. Then, a couple minutes go by and the adrenaline starts to wear off and I’m like, ‘Man, my hand really hurts.’ I’m with my parents at the time, and on the car ride home, I was like, ‘Guys, I think I might need to go to the hospital.’“We went and I ended up breaking it.”Darnold didn’t need surgery, but missed the last seven games of the regular season. He would return for the postseason, but his app rnold’s cool-headed and even-keeled temperament is that of a veteran, something that immediately endeared him to his teammates and coaches in New York.“He’s got an old soul, but he’s young in age,” coach Todd Bowles said. “But he understands the game very well and he works at it the right way.”That doesn’t mean Darnold doesn’t get worked up inside when things aren’t going right. He’s as competitive as they come and might shake his fist slightly if he misses a throw, but locker doors are safe.“I think for me, it’s understanding that I can’t control anything that’s happened in the past,” he said. “Do I get frustrated? Yeah, definitely. But I know that those couple of seconds that I do think about it — and sometimes longer if I’m on the sideline if I throw a pick or something — I can think about it for a minute or two and just let it go after that. That’s really it.”After a rousing season-opening win at Detroit , the Jets have lost two in a row — including a 21-17 defeat at Cleveland last Thursday night that left many of the players embarrassed and stunned.The team had the weekend off from practice and meetings before returning to the field Monday, and Darnold tried to clear his head. He checked out the Ed Sheeran concert at MetLife Stadium and hung out with a few buddies, but his mind inevitably wandered to the loss to the Browns.“Every other couple of hours, I’d think back to one play in the game,” he said. “And the whole weekend, it just kind of dragged on, thoughts about the game.”Sure, Darnold was happy to get a bit of a break after playing three games in 11 days to start his NFL career. But the youngest quarterback to start an NFL season opener in the Super Bowl era was also fired up to get back to work.“It wasn’t as crazy as people expected it to be,” Darnold said of the first three weeks. “I was really well prepared going into every game, I thought. S uper Bowl appearance. They’ve been searching for the next Joe Namath since his last days with the team in 1976. While some quarterbacks have had success, none has been able to produce sustained winning football.That’s what the team and its long-suffering fan base hope, wish and pray they have in Darnold. And he doesn’t run from that burden.“It’s not so much the mindset of not failing or not wanting to fail, but more of wanting to be successful, if that makes sense,” Darnold said. “You just kind of flip it so it’s not a negative.”It has been an up-and-down start for the rookie, who has thrown three touchdown passes and five interceptions heading into Sunday’s game at Jacksonville.He has repeatedly spoken about how the last few weeks have been a learning experience, one that could help shape the rest of his career.“I think it’s definitely something that I’ll be able to look back on,” he said, “especially if something is bothering me or if during the late stages of the season, I’m like, ‘Man, this season is really dragging on,’ because everyone says you’ll hit the rookie wall.“But I think during that time, I’ll look back and be like, ‘Man, I played three games in 11 days. I feel like I can do anything.'”And, be cool, calm and collected while doing it.
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