On the Steelers: Suisham earns trust
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The man who snaps the football when the Steelers line up to attempt a field goal shared a premonition with his kicker this week.
"I told Shaun, I think our game is going to come down to a field goal," Greg Warren said. "I think we'll be driving for a chance to kick the field goal to win, and we'll put it on him and we'll feel really good about it."
The Steelers have confidence in kicker Shaun Suisham because they have seen him do it. He made 14 of his 15 field-goal tries in the regular season after they signed him Nov. 16, and he has two of his three postseason attempts.
They claim that his previous record in the postseason matters little to them. Suisham missed two long kicks, from 48 and 49 yards in the Dallas Cowboys' 34-3 playoff loss at Minnesota Jan. 17, 2010. He scored the Cowboys' only points with a 33-yard field goal that day but was not retained after the season.
Yet if Warren is right and this Super Bowl comes down to, say a 44-yard field-goal try at the end, they feel confident Suisham will deliver.
"I'm confident," said veteran special teams coach Al Everest. "The kid's earned the confidence. Confidence comes by earning it. To me, he came in off the street, in shape, takes care of himself. He's earned the respect of this team and the coaching staff. I feel very confident about that."
Suisham came off the Cowboys-through-Cleveland Browns-through-Arizona Cardinals highway this season to land with the Steelers after they released Jeff Reed, who had kicked for them since 2002. Reed was very good at what he did, including the postseason in which had not missed a kick since 2002. But Reed missed seven through the middle of November, then complained bitterly about the Heinz Field turf when he missed one in a loss at home to New England. He was released two days later.
Reed went on to make 9 of 10 field goals after San Francisco signed him and has returned home to North Carolina. Associates said it bothers him tremendously that he is not still kicking for the Steelers in what would have been his third Super Bowl.
"He wishes he were here, but things happen," Warren said.
Steelers president Art Rooney II said he talked with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday and does not blame him for any wrongdoing for his infamous quote about Ben Roethlisberger that was published this week.
"From what I understand, he was misquoted," Rooney said. "I certainly don't think he was intending on it for something to be published this week."
Goodell told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that during his investigation into the charges of sexual assault made against Roethlisberger in March that, "I bet two dozen [Steeler] players ... Not one, not a single player, went to his defense. It wasn't personal in a sense, but all kinds of stories like, 'He won't sign my jersey.' "
King later reported that he had assumed Goodell meant Steelers players and inserted the word Steelers in brackets. Goodell told King Monday that he did not. The interview took place Jan. 7 but was published Monday.
"I talked to the commissioner this morning, and that's what he said, that it wasn't something he expected to be said this week," Rooney said. "And he was asked about all the things he did and was trying to get some background on how he approaches his decisions.
"It wasn't like he was trying to take a shot at Ben or anything like that. He was talking about sort of what his thought process went on nine months ago."
Rooney said he did not think it would have an effect on the Steelers players this week.
"You know what, I think for Ben and our players, that's all kind of ancient history at this point," he said. "I think they'll all have to answer questions today but I don't think it will be a distraction. They're expecting to get a couple of questions, there's no surprise to it."
It is a long, long way from Bowie State to Cowboys Stadium, particularly on their respective media days.
Isaac Redman, the Steelers' second-leading running back, looked around in awe at both Cowboys Stadium and the hundreds of media swarming around him on its surface Tuesday. Last year, he finished as a part-time practice squad player for the Steelers, who signed him after he went undrafted in 2009.
"I was just sitting in the locker room thinking of Bowie State's media day -- about one reporter, one photographer," said Redman. "And you come out here and you see all this and think, I really came a long way. They didn't even interview me [at Bowie], they interviewed all the guys from the area. About the worst media day I've ever seen in my life."
Tuesday then was his best.
Redman made the roster after his second training camp by sheer force of will. He was such a powerful, dynamic runner that the Steelers had to keep him. Rashard Mendenhall is their horse -- he had 324 carries for 1,273 yards -- but Redman came next with 247 yards and a 4.8-yard average.
He also scored one of their most important touchdowns of the season -- a 9-yarder near the end of the game on third down in a 13-10 victory Dec. 5 at Baltimore.
At the end of that tackle-breaking run, Redman lifted his hand and formed an 'L.'
It was not a signal to Ravens' fans but a remembrance of Leroy Scott, a cousin who grew up in the same household like a big brother. Scott was killed in an auto accident in November 2009 in New Jersey, where the family lives.
First Published February 2, 2011 12:00 am