Weekend mailbag: Future for Steelers kicker
May, 19, 2012
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
Time to open up some mail, which includes a couple of questions concerning the Pittsburgh kicker.
C from Ontario, Canada, writes: Shaun Suisham grew up close to me and I want him to do well. But I'm a Steeler fan first, so why is he on the team still? He bombed hard last year, his field-goal percentage was 31st in the league last season. Please tell me this young guy can beat Shaun out! Or at least the Steelers will do something.
Dennis from Clermont, Fla.: Jamison, when will the Steelers get serious about needing a kicker? With a team that has a defense that can always keep games close, an above average kicker is a necessity, but the team never invests in that position.
Jamison Hensley from AFC North headquarters responds: There has to be some surprise that the Steelers didn't bring in serious competition to take on Suisham. Pittsburgh recently worked out Dave Rayner, another less-than-stellar veteran, but it didn't sign him. While no kicker for the Steelers will ever rank high in field-goal percentage, because half of his games are at challenging Heinz Field, Suisham struggled on the road as well. He made 9 of 13 kicks beyond 30 yards away from home (69 percent).
This lack of consistency in the kicking game can become a problem, especially if the Steelers can't improve on being the 18th-ranked red-zone offense. The only competition for Suisham is Danny Hrapmann, an undrafted rookie out of Southern Mississippi. He connected on 67.6 percent (23 of 34) of his field goals last season. In other words, he's not a real threat to Suisham. The Steelers should have looked at a veteran like Neil Rackers, who since signed with Washington. Pittsburgh should be more concerned about its kicker situation.