Steelers trying out kickers
With Jeff Reed struggling and voicing his frustration about fan and media criticism, the Steelers are expected to work out several kickers this week at their practice facility.
Among the kickers they will take a look at today is Shaun Suisham, who has played for the Cowboys and Redskins and has made 79.1 percent of his career field-goal attempts.
Suisham went to training camp with the Steelers in 2005 but wasn't able to unseat Reed.
Whether the Steelers are truly serious about making a change with Reed just 15 of 22 on field goal attempts this season or just trying to send a message to the ninth-year veteran remains to be seen.
"I have not heard anything," Donal Henderson, Reed's agent, said late Monday afternoon.
Reed entered the season as the most accurate kicker in Steelers' history, having converted 83.3 percent of his field-goal attempts. From 2007-09, he was the most accurate kicker in the NFL, converting on 88.5 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Reed's trademark consistency has been missing this season, as he missed two field goals in a 17-14 loss to the Ravens on Oct. 3 at Heinz Field.
Last Monday, he missed a 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, and the defense had to make a late stand to preserve the Steelers' 27-21 win at Cincinnati.
And in the Steelers' 39-26 loss to the Patriots on Sunday, Reed made a 22-yard field goal but missed a 26-yard attempt.
On both kicks, he said afterward that his plant foot sunk into the soggy turf at Heinz Field.
"I can't help it when turf moves and you miss a kick," said Reed, adding that he wears cleats with the longest spikes allowed by the NFL. "I just wish if you play sports or are a sports fan, you understand things like that. I've been here a long time. I think I know what I'm doing."
Reed taking exception to outside criticism may have raised a red flag with the Steelers about how the fallout from his struggles have affected him.
"It doesn't help that everything you read or hear on the radio is negative, too, and that comes from you guys, too," Reed said to reporters after the Steelers' loss Sunday. "I just come across it sometimes and happen to catch my name, so I want to read about it.
"Instead of it being a 53-yarder last week (against the Bengals) that I made, it was the 46-yarder that I missed that could have clinched in the game."
On fan criticism, Reed said, "It's like they buy tickets just to bash me, (punter) Dan (Sepulveda) and (long snapper) Greg (Warren). It's more me because points come off my foot. It's other players, too; it's not just me. I talk about myself because I don't want to comment on other people's business. It's the five percent you hear and the ones that truly have your back, that's 95 percent (of fans) in my mind."
Reed, the Steelers' second all-time leading scorer, found himself in the crosshairs of some fans before the season even started. At the beginning of training camp, he went public with his unhappiness about how the Steelers had handled his contract situation.
The Steelers placed a franchise tag on Reed last February, and he signed a one-year, $2.81 million contract in April. Reed, however, said the Steelers never followed through on a promise to seriously negotiate with him on a long-term deal.
"Everyone goes back if I miss one to what I said at camp, and I think that's absurd because I love this team, I love this town," Reed said Sunday.
Reed, who won the Steelers' kicking job following a tryout during the 2002 season, said he wants to stay in Pittsburgh beyond this season.
When asked after the Patriots' loss if coach Mike Tomlin still has confidence in him, Reed said, "He sends me out there all the time because he knows I'm going to make it and so do I. I don't take anything for granted. That's why on a field like that, a 2-yard field goal, you can miss."