Steelers Place Shaun Suisham on Injured Reserve, Sign David Nelson, Braylon Heard

As expected, the Pittsburgh Steelers placed place kicker Shaun Suisham on injured reserve. Suisham, who has kicked for the Steelers since mid 2010, tore his ACL after the opening kickoff in the in the Steelers 14-3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the preseason Hall of Fame Game.

The Steelers made other roster moves in the wake of injuries suffered during the Hall of Fame Game. Undrafted rookie free agent running Cameron Stingily was placed on the “Wavied/injured list” after suffering a knee injury against the Vikings.

The Steelers filled their roster spots with rookie running back Braylon Heard who spent the 2014 season playing for the Kentucky Wildcats where he appeared in 11 games and rushed for 368 yards. He began his college careear with the Nebraska Cornhuskers, where he appeared in 19 games and rushed for 426 yards.

The Steelers also signed wide receiver David Nelson. Nelson has played in the NFL since 2010, having played in Buffalo for three years where he appeared in 32 games and made 17 starts and he spent the last two seasons with the New York Jets, appearing in 18 games.

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Steelers Sign Garrett Hartley to Replace Shaun Suisham @ Place Kicker

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Garrett Hartley today to replace Shaun Suisham. Suisham, who was one of the NFL’s most accurate kickers last season and has mastered the difficult art of kicking at Heinz Field, tore his ACL during the Hall of Fame Game while attempting to make a tackle on a kick return.

Garrett Hartley has kicked in the NFL since 2008 when he entered as the kicker for the New Orleans Saints. A brief glance at his history shows that he is a very strong kicker inside of 30 yards and does reasonably well inside of 40 yards. His overall career field goal kicking percentage is 81.7%

  • Garrett Hartley has never missed an extra point.

For comparison’s sake, Suisham’s field goal kicking percentage for the Steelers 2014 season was 90.7% and his career average in Pittsburgh is 87.9%. However, prior to coming to Pittsburgh Suisham’s averages with Washington and Dallas were less impressive, where he leveled out at 80.2% and 66.7%

In addition to his time in New Orleans with the Saints, Hartley kicked for the Cleveland Browns at the tail end of 2014, where he went 3-3 on field goal tries including two from over 30 yards and one from beyond 40.

Steelers Trends with Kickers

Tony Defeo, a fellow blogger and part-time contributor to this site, once quipped that Steelers kickers are like ex-girlfriends (that’s a must read if there ever was one.)

  • And he’s right. The Steelers tend to go all in with a kicker or not at all.

Roy Gerela kicked for Chuck Noll from 1969 to 1978. He was followed by Matt Bahr who kicked from 1979 and 1980, was spelled for a year by David Trout, who was followed by Gary Anderson who kicked from 1982 to 1994.

Gary Anderson left Pittsburgh in a contract dispute, but he was followed by Norm Johnson who kicked from 1995 to 1998. Johnson gave way to Kris Brown, who did well enough at Three Rivers Stadium but struggled at Heinz Field.

The Steelers thought they had Brown’s replacement in Todd Peterson, but Peterson too had difficulty kicking at Heinz Field so the Steelers brought in Jeff Reed, who kicked from mid-2002 until mid-2010.

That’s 9 kickers in 46 years for those of you at home taking notes.

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Steelers Kicker Shaun Suisham Tears ACL, Out for Season

Perhaps Mike Tomlin had a premonition. Word early in OTA’s was that the Steelers were placing an extra emphasis on practicing 2 point conversions.

  • And now it looks like they’ll need that practice.

Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham tore his ACL in the Steelers 14-3 preseason loss to the Minnestoa Vikings in the Hall of Fame game. Shaun Suisham will need surgery and will likely miss the season. Suisham was the NFL’s 5th most accurate kicker last year and was 40 of 42 on field goals attempted from within 29 yards. He had never missed an extra point for Pittsburgh.

While the Steelers have not announced it yet, but the headline “Shaun Suisham tears ACL will have surgery” means the Steelers will put him on the injured reserve list which would end his season.

Reed Ejected from Hall of Fame Game

The news that the Steelers lost Suisham for the season in the Hall of Fame game comes with an added bit of irony.

 

His predecessor, Jeff Reed, was reportedly ejected from the game for rowdy behavior, although Reed claims he left of his own volition. When one fan asked if Reed was available, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette scribe Ed Bouchette responded with this quip.

Reed of course was cut by the Steelers following their 2010 blowout loss to the New England Patriots. Although reports were never confirmed, word was that Reed go into an altercation with a fan after the game. Prior to that Reed had had several run ins with the police, one of which included trashing a paper towel dispenser at Sheetz, and another time he and Matt Spaeth were cited for indecent exposure.

  • Nonetheless, the Steelers are looking for a kicker now.

Two to veteran candidates are Billy Cundiff who has experience kicking in the Northeast after having played for Baltimore and Cleeland. Another is Shayne Graham, whom the Steelers carried on their roster during early 2013. ESPN reporter Jeremy Fowler who knows AFC North weather after stops in Baltimore and Cleveland.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler suggest that rookie Sam Ficken could be a potential candidate.

For the record, Jeff Reed claims he has contracted Mike Tomlin and is interested in returning, but hasn’t heard back yet…

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Vikings Defeat Steelers 14-3 in Preseason, Suisham Possibly Injured

The Pittsburgh Steelers began their 2015 season in Canton, Ohio in the NFL’s annual Hall of Fame Game that saw the Vikings defeat the Steelers 14-3 in this preseason contest.

The Steelers of course were on hand to celebrate Jerome Bettis’ induction to the Hall of Fame, and as this is the first of 5 preseason contests, the Mike Tomlin chose to sit veterans such as Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and James Harrison.

With Roethlisberger out and Bruce Gradkowski still on the PUP list, it fell to Landry Jones to lead the Steelers under center. Jones had entered training camp fighting for his NFL life, but Jones had show good progress in the eyes of the press. Jones played the entire game, and per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, only put in a so-so night.

  • Jones completed 50% of his passes, and missed key passes to rookies Sammie Coates and tight end Jesse James. Jones was also sacked twice.

Brandon Boykin, whom the Steelers recently acquired in a trade, looked sharp, as did Shayon Green and Stephon Tuitt.

On the ground, the Steelers were led by second year man Dri Archer, who rushed 4 times for 24 yards. Archer also caught six passes for 33 yards, although he appeared to shy away from contact.

Ryan Shazier led the defense, registering 5 solo tackles, and he was followed by Antwon Blake and Terence Garvin and Jordan Zumwalt, both inside linebackers trying to make the team at a very crowded spot on the depth chart. For the record, Eathan Hemer had the Steelers lone sack.

Suisham Injured?

Shaun Suisham headed to the locker room following the opening kickoff of the second half. No word has been released on his health, but Suisham has been a very reliable kicker for the Steelers, and an injury to him could cause problems for the Steelers. Marcus Gilbert also had an eye poked and Cameron Stingily suffered an knee injury and did not return.

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Training Camp Notes: Robert Golden Injured, Steelers Waive Eli Rogers

St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania has been the home of Steelers training camp for 50 years now, and in that time championships have been forged and dreams have been realized.

  • Sadly, the reverse is also true.

St. Vincent’s is also the place where NFL dreams come to an end. Sometimes it’s a question of a player deciding it’s time to hang it up, as Dwayne Woodruff did in 1991. Other times it becomes clear that a player simply can’t cut it anymore, as happened with David Little in 1993.

  • And yet other times it’s simply the cruel hand of fate that brings the end in the form of injury.

The Steelers suffered what is to be believed as their first major training camp injury today when safety and special teamer Robert Golden went down. Robert Golden made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012. Golden actually got snaps as a rookie, a rarity in Dick LeBeau’s defense.

  • Coaches were high on him going into 2013 and the whisper was that if he and Shamarko Thomas had shown enough, Ryan Clark could become expendable.

That never happened, and Golden’s role as a safety never materialized, but he turned himself into an outstanding special teamer.

Troy Polamalu’s retirement opened a spot on the depth chart, and while everyone has expected Shamarko Thomas to fill it, Robert Golden was getting reps with the secondary.

Ironically, with Shamarko and Michael Mitchell out, Golden was running with the first team, and per Dale Lolley’s report, he collided with Antonio Brown in a 2 minute drill, and Golden went down clutching his knee.

Golden is “still being evaluated” per Mike Tomlin’s report, but this is a tough break for a restricted free agent who was looking to get an opportunity to climb the ladder. Hopefully this is nothing serious, and Golden will be back on the field.

Eli Rogers Goes on the Waived/Injured List

It was only 10 days into training camp, yet Eli Rogers, the undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver out of Louisville was turning heads. Many reporters were already talking about Rogers as the “sleeper” at camp.

  • While Roger’s road to a roster spot was long, many felt if the Steelers opted to keep six wide outs Rogers would have the best shot.

That chance will have to wait, as the Steelers placed Rogers on the waived/injured list. Roger’s loss would appear to be C.J. Goodwin’s gain, although the Steelers depth chart at wide out seems fairly set, with Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant have the top three spots locked up, with rookie Sammie Coates and veteran journeyman Darrius Heyward-Bey vying for the 4th and 5th slots.

To replace Eli Rogers the Steelers signed Kenzel Doe whom they are already using to return punts.

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Landry Jones Future with Steelers Appears More Secure 1 Week into Training Camp

It appears that the reports of the death of Landry Jones NFL career have been greatly exaggerated.

The operative word above would be “appears,” but we’ll get to that in a moment. But for now, consider everything that has transpired to get Landry Jones to this point. When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Tajh Boyd the conventional wisdom was that Jones had better be looking over his shoulder (although Jim Wexell argued to the contrary.)

Then the Steelers signed Tyler Murphy and Devin Gardner as undrafted rookie free agent wide receivers who were converting from quarterbacks. Nothing highly unusual about that, but then the Steelers started giving both men snaps under center in OTA’s and mini camp and they continued to get time at quarterback once training camp started.

In part, the Steelers took these steps out of necessity. With Bruce Gradkowski out, and Mike Tomlin generously giving Ben Roethlisberger “veteran’s days” someone had to pick up the slack and the Steelers have always brought four quarterbacks to training camp.

On day one, Landry Jones threw two picks in short yardage drills. On day two, rookie Doran Grant picked off Jones. After the second day in pads, Dale Lolley declared: “The Landry Jones experiment has not worked out. He’s slightly better than he was before, but not enough that he’s a sure thing.”

Yet a day later, Lolley was reversing course, reporting from the Steelers night practice at Latrobe Stadium that Jones looked the best he has in 3 years and, while qualify that Jones wasn’t starter material, claimed that he belonged. And yet another day later, Lolley was declaring that Jones had solidified his hold on the 3rd quarterback slot.

Lolley is not the only reporter to sing Jones’ praises. PennLive’s Jacob Klingler has gotten on Mike Tomlin on the record complimenting Jones for taking advantage of his increased snaps. Jim Wexell has recounted sessions where the ball didn’t hit the ground.

  • That appears to be a stark turn around for a troubled player in 1 week of training camp.

But again, “appears” is the operative word, because throwing the ball well in drills or scrimmages is one thing, doing it during an actual game is something else, and the Steelers 1st preseason game is still several days away.

But perhaps even that may bode well for Landry Jones. It’s been said that in 2014 and 2013, Jones played better in preseason than he played in practice – which means he must have really played poorly in practice….

Time will tell, but for now Landry Jones future with the Steelers looks more secure as he seems to be one player who has turned a corner for the better.

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Steelers Activate Maurkice Pouncey and Other Training Camp Notes

On the same day when news broke that their second round draft pick might already be lost for the year, the Pittsburgh Steelers got the services back of an established veteran. The Steelers activated Maurkice Pouncey from the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, making him eligible to practice with the team.

  • Pouncey had been nursing a sprained foot, but was well enough to participate in half of the team’s scrimmages, according to Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell.

The move means that Cody Wallace will return to his role as second team center, and stand by replacement at guard.

Senquez Golson confirmed Ed Bouchette’s report that he may have season-ending surgery, but clarified that no decision will be made until next week.

Steelers Training Camp Training Table

Per press reports, the Steelers have now practiced in pads for six straight days leaving many players out of action Monday. Offensive players who did not suit up were Ramon Foster, Matt Spaeth, Ben Roethlisberger, DeAngelo Williams, Josh Harris and Markus Wheaton. Martavis Bryant is recovering from minor elbow surgery and did not practice and is not likely to play in the Hall of Fame Game.

Shamarko Thomas, Ross Ventrone and Mike Mitchell were defensive players who missed the game, along with James Harrison who has not practiced yet. Daniel McCullers also sat out with what was described as a “minor hamstring” injury.

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Steelers Trade for Brandon Boykin, Send Eagles Conditional 5th Round Pick

Secondary remained a primary concern of the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout the 2015 off season, and as the team begins its second week of training camp at St. Vincent’s in Latrobe, Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin are apparently still looking to bolster their defensive backfield.

In a surprise move the Pittsburgh Steelers have acquired cornerback Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a conditional 5th round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Eagles drafted Boykin in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Boykin played his college ball at the University of Georgia. While Boykin has appeared in 48 NFL games, he has only made six starts. His best season came in 2013 when he recorded 6 interceptions, including one pick six.

How Boykin Fits Into the Steelers Secondary

While corernback was an area of prime need for the Steelers during the off season, the team worked aggressively to address the position in the 2015 NFL Draft, picking Senquez Golson in the 2nd round and taking Doran Grant in 4th round.

Aside from the two new rookies, the Steelers return William Gay and Cortez Allen, who signed a rich extension last year only to find himself benched by mid season. The Steelers let Brice McCain go in free agency, but retain Antwon Blake. They also have B.W. Webb, whom they acquired from Dallas last year, and who held down a roster spot but played little.

The Steelers are not known as a team that makes trades, but they are becoming more common. The Steelers traded the late Adrian Robinson for Felix Jones during 2013 training camp, and they also traded for Levi Brown during the 2013 season, but Brown injured himself in warmups and never played a down.

  • Boykin has talent and can perform as his 2013 success in ballhawking shows, but he apparently fell out of favor with Chip Kelly.

Brandon Boykin will not be handed anything in Pittsburgh. Mike Tomlin does not work that way. But he will do what neither Doran Grant nor even a healthy Senquez Golson can do – push Gay, Allen and Blake. Tomlin, Keith Butler and Carnell Lake may have confidence in their cornerbacks, but Steelers trade for Brandon Boykin shows they are not about to let those men get comfortable.

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Vote Steelers Nation: Who Does the Success of Steelers 2015 Defense Depend On?

There’s no sugar coating this one Steelers Nation. The Pittsburgh Steelers once vaunted defense slipped in 2014, and it slipped badly.

Yes, it is true that Dick LeBeau worked his wizardry and improved the unit by season’s end, the naked truth is that despite the defense’s strong finish in 2014, they did not enter the playoffs scaring anyone. And, while the loss of Le’Veon Bell didn’t help the offense, the truth is that Joe Flacco had his way with the Steelers defense in the 30-17 defeat at Heinz Field.

Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert did not take development lightly. Troy Polamalu was coaxed into retirement, while Brett Keisel and Ike Taylor were shown the door.

Now the question remains as to whether the Steelers can do addition by subtraction?

steelers, defense, ryan shazier, bud dupree, shamarko thomas, cortez allen, poll, jarvis jones, daniel mccullers

Rising Steelers defensive players

The Steelers have several defenders who MUST step up this summer at St. Vincents, and grow into the players they were projected to be on draft day. Ben Roethlisberger and the offense can’t win a Super Bowl all by themselves.

Ideally, all will make this step, but some are more equal than others. Now is your chance to vote for which players’ development is most important to the success of the Steelers 2015 defense.

Interestingly enough, the top three choices, Shamarko Thomas, Cortez Allen and Jarvis Jones have a combined 8 years of roster experience between them. Daniel McCullers, Stephon Tuitt and Ryan Shazier are in their second summers at Latrobe, which is the time when players typically make their biggest leaps.

Likewise, we’re including rookies Bud Dupree and Senquez Golson, although you’re free to vote for any other player you wish to vote for.

Please vote now Steelers Nation!

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Steelers Nation Speaks: Steelers 2015 Training Camp Roster Needs Poll Results

The Pittsburgh Steelers took advantage of the 2015 off season to strengthen their roster in a number of ways. They added DeAngelo Williams to back up Le’Veon Bell. Likewise, they retained the services of Will Johnson.

Most of their effort, however, focused on rebuilding the defense.

And their rebuilding efforts focused on the top, with Dick LeBeau resigning/was forced out, while Keith Butler stepped in to take his place.

  • These of course were not the only moves the Steelers made.

They drafted Bud Dupree, Senquez Golson, and Doran Grant to bolster their pass rush and secondary. And these were just prime picks, and they also picked up defensive lineman L.T. Walton and Anthony Chickillo. All told, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a lot of moves.

steelers-2015-training-camp-roster-needs-strengths-weaknesses

Fans were polled on the Steelers roster needs heading into 2015 training camp

But have they done enough?

Well, our little corner of Steelers Nation has spoken, and it would appear that the Steelers still have 3 prime areas of need.

First, fans seem to think that bench behind Ben Roethlisberger needs help. And less than a week into camp, that prediction seems to be accurate. Bruce Gradkowski is ailing, while Landry Jones is struggling – this is not good, as Jones entered camp fighting for his NFL life. The Steelers are also working in Tajh Boyd, Tyler Murphy and Devin Gardner. None of the three are looking particularly good.

Cornerback and safety are also areas of a fan concern. Cortez Allen is apparently playing well, but little has been heard of Shamarko Thomas, which might not be a bad thing.

  • Outside of that, no other position area even approached single digits.

And the fact that Steelers Nation is so unconcerned with the Steelers linebacking corps is suprising, especially considering that their only proven starter is James Harrison, who is closer to 40 than he is 30. Arthur Moats played well in 2014, but does not appear to be a long-term starter, and Jarvis Jones remains more of a question mark than anything else.

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