On the Steelers: Reed declines first two offers
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As kicker Jeff Reed cleared waivers, then turned down offers from two teams to sign with them, his former teammates were still somewhat baffled over his stunning release by the Steelers.
Agent Don Henderson said he expected Reed would go unclaimed because the team claiming him would have had to pay him the remaining $1.16 million left on his salary as their franchise player this season.
The Steelers must now pay that salary, and Reed is an unrestricted free agent.
"We had three calls and two offers," Henderson said. "But we're not going to kick this weekend."
Henderson identified one of them as Cincinnati.
Henderson also said Reed will take the rest of the week off after his release by the Steelers caught him by surprise. He had kicked for them since 2002 and wants to sort things out and consider his options.
Henderson hopes Reed can sign a one-year contract with a team to finish out this season.
"We want to end the year on a positive rather than a negative," Henderson said.
The agent said linebacker James Harrison and other teammates flooded Reed with phone calls that picked him up after his release, which many could not understand.
"I hate to see Jeff Reed leave under the circumstances in the middle of the season," said wide receiver Antwaan Randle El. "I'm sure something other than just kicking had to be involved in that deal."
Reed was a co-captain in 2009 of the special teams.
"It just gives us a sense that nobody's bigger than the team," said defensive captain James Farrior.
"Jeff Reed was one of our main guys around here. He's been here nine years, he came in with me. He's definitely a leader who came in, he's always done a good job. He's had a rough year this year. They decided to release him. It was a big release, he's a big-time player, and we're sad to see him go."
Punter Daniel Sepulveda, who holds for the kicker, said Reed had a valid point about why he missed his 26-yard field-goal attempt Sunday against the New England Patriots.
"There was a hole there. I filled it in, replaced the divot, we moved the ball. There's only so much you can do."
Shaun Suisham (pronounced Swee-zum) pulled on uniform No. 6, last worn by Bubby Brister in 1992, and became the first kicker to join the Steelers' regular-season roster officially other than Reed since Todd Peterson was injured Nov. 17, 2002 in a game at Tennessee.
Suisham has been with a number of teams since 2005, but none since the St. Louis Rams cut him in August. He recently tried out for Detroit. His first NFL training camp came in 2005 with the Steelers.
"I would have paid the Steelers to let me come here," he said of that camp.
He acknowledged that he has missed some important kicks recently -- one from 23 for Washington that would have given the New Orleans Saints their first loss last December, and then two for Dallas in a playoff loss against Minnesota. But he said he does not think much about them.
"I never carry misses or makes with me. ... That's how I've always viewed things. I can sleep at night, knowing I've trained very hard, I do everything I possibly can to put myself in position to succeed. That brings me a sense of relief, and I can look at myself in the mirror.
"I never anticipate missing, but, when it does happen, move on to the next play."
As a contrast to the Steelers' approach to Reed, who was 15 of 22 on field-goal attempts this season with misses from 55 and 51 yards, the Oakland Raiders have stood by their man.
Sebastian Janikowski, drafted in the first round in 2000 by Oakland, has had his problems on and off the field through the years.
He has been charged separately with DUI, bribery, fighting in a restaurant and drug possession. On the field, he has had more misses than Reed. He missed 10 tries as a rookie (68.8 percent). He missed 10 again in 2005 (66.7), seven in '06 (72.0) and nine in '07 (71.9). Now, seven misses this season.
Yet the Raiders not only have kept him, they made him the NFL's highest-paid kicker with $16 million over four years.
"I have great confidence in Sebastian," said Darren McFadden, who leads the Raiders with 757 yards rushing. "He is a great kicker."
A side benefit to Reed's surprise release Tuesday has been how the kicking situation for them has served as a lightning rod for the Steelers.
The kicker story has deflected most of the public scrutiny away from other troubling aspects of what was a 39-26 blowout loss at home to the New England Patriots. Questions about how they were so ill prepared for the Patriots' offense, how they could not run nor throw against the Patriots' young defense until it no longer mattered, and how once again a Bill Belichick team embarrassed them.
Yet one team captain acknowledged the situation.
"I hope that everybody's ticked off," Farrior said. "The way we played last week was definitely unacceptable. It's something we can't have if we're going to be a championship team. I think guys are going to be focused in this week and into practice every day this week, and we're going to come back ready to play.
"I haven't gotten my butt whipped like that in a long time."
Maybe it was a reaction to the way they played Sunday, but Mike Tomlin had his team practice in full pads, the first time they've done that on a Wednesday since early in the season.
"A full get-go," said Hines Ward.
Tomlin had taken a new approach to Wednesday practices this year, going light. That changed this week. Ward practiced in pads on a Wednesday for the first time "in years," he said, even though he was coming off a Sunday concussion.
"I felt fine," he said.
Troy Polamalu (Achilles strain) did not practice, and neither did Will Allen (concussion). Brett Keisel (hamstring), who has missed three of the past four games, was limited, as was Chris Kemoeatu (ankle) and Lawrence Timmons (hip).
First Published November 18, 2010 12:00 am