Shaun Suisham became the most accurate place-kicker in Steelers history in 2013. Friday, the team took steps to ensure he would not test free agency after this season by rewarding him with a four-year contract extension.
The Steelers have extended two players who were entering the final year of their contract. They gave center Maurkice Pouncey a new contract in June. That leaves three players -- cornerback Cortez Allen, outside linebacker Jason Worilds and offensive right tackle Marcus Gilbert -- without long-term contracts. The Steelers do not negotiate contracts once the season begins.
Suisham, entering the final of a four-year contract worth $1,425 million, set the single-season franchise record by making 93.8 percent (30 for 32) of his field-goal attempts last season. Over the past two seasons, he has made 58 of 63 attempts and since joining the team in the middle of the 2010 season he has made 87.2 percent (95 for 109) of his attempts, making him the most accurate kicker in team history.
There was nothing to suggest Suisham would perform as well as he has when the Steelers signed him. He made 77 percent of his field-goal attempts with the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in his first five seasons and missed 14 of 60 attempts in 2008 and 2009. His stock had fallen so much that he spent the first nine weeks of the 2010 season unemployed until the Steelers called.
"As I've gotten older, I've learned to take things one game at a time," Suisham said. "I enjoy playing here. Certainly, playing in Pittsburgh, there are some challenges, but I love them. I truly do. I get excited when the weather's bad."
Suisham has found a home at Heinz Field, a venue place-kickers have come to despise since it was erected in 2001. Heinz Field is notorious for its tricky winds and field conditions that deteriorate as the seasons change.
Friday night fight
The first fight of training camp took place Friday when the Steelers held their annual night practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium. Linebacker Vince Williams and running back Le'Veon Bell faced each other in a backs-on-backers drill, and they continued to tussle to the ground. LeGarrette Blount, not dressed for practice, came to Bell's defense when Williams landed on top of him. That led to the entire group of linebackers, running backs and tight ends to get involved. Assistant linebacker coach Joey Porter pulled Blount off the pile and, for a moment, it appeared they would tussle. Cooler heads prevailed, though.
After practice, coach Mike Tomlin addressed the situation.
"It's the ebb and flow associated with team development," he said. "The tight ends kicked the butt of the linebackers the other day. The linebackers came back with a vengeance today."
Tomlin also said the incident can be used as a teaching tool.
In addition to Blount sitting out with another maintenance day, receiver Justin Brown (broken nose), linebacker Jarvis Jones (tight groin), running back Dri Archer (knee), tight end Eric Waters (back) and linebacker Jordan Zumwalt did not practice. ... There was one injury in practice. Rookie cornerback Shaquille Richardson left with a tight groin. ... The Steelers released running back Alvester Alexander and added running back Jawan Jamison to the roster.
Ray Fittipaldo: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @rayfitt1.
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1. First Published August 1, 2014 12:00 AM