Hrapmann Won’t Challenge Suisham For Steelers Kicking Job, Right?

By Jeremy Hritz

It’s that time of year again when I begin my usual campaign for the Pittsburgh Steelers to force a competition for the kicking job, as last year, I beat the drum for Grant Ressel and Danny Hrapmann to overtake Shaun Suisham as the team’s placekicker.

To my disappointment, despite Hrapmann’s solid preseason performance in 2012, hitting all six of his field goal attempts, including three from beyond 40 yards, he was cut, and Suisham retained his starting job for the entire season.

And the decision to stick with Suisham turned out to be the right one. Last season, Suisham was money on 28 of his 31 field goal attempts, his longest being a 52 yarder against the Tennessee Titans. 21 of his 28 field goals came beyond distances of 30 or more yards, and early on, there was talk that Suisham was a prime candidate for the Pro Bowl.

While he wasn’t perfect, Suisham put together his most complete campaign since joining the Steelers. His biggest hiccups however, came in games when he was needed to come through the most. On a Thursday night game against the Titans, despite already hitting a 52 yarder earlier in the game, Suisham missed on a 54 yarder that didn’t have enough beef on it that resulted in a 26-23 loss. Had Suisham have hit that kick, the Steelers may have earned another win.

His other poor performance of 2012 came in a tremendously important game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in which a win all but guaranteed the Steelers a playoff spot. In a close game that the Steelers lost 13-10 and were eliminated from the playoffs, Suisham connected on only one of three field goals, missing a short 24-yarder and a more difficult shot from 53 yards. If Suisham had connected on one of those attempts, the Steelers could have tied the game, and if he hit both, the 2012 season may have been prolonged a bit into the postseason.

It wasn’t the way that Suisham wanted to remember his season, missing such meaningful kicks, but those misses did nothing to shake Mike Tomlin’s faith in him. After the Bengals game, Tomlin said “We’ve got a great deal of confidence in Shaun and rightfully so.”

Despite Suisham’s misses in the games against the Titans and the Bengals, it is difficult to imagine a scenario that he would lose his starting spot to Hrapmann this training camp. If Hrapmann is to earn the starting spot over Suisham, he is not only going to have to continue to demonstrate consistency on his field goals, but also that he can drive kick-offs into the end zone on a regular basis.

It would also serve Hrapmann well if he can hit, with regularity, field goals from beyond 52 yards, something that Suisham has had difficulty with throughout his career. If he can prove all of these things, then maybe, just maybe, he has a realistic shot. But, all things considered at the current moment, barring injury, Suisham most likely will return to his starting spot in 2013.

  • steeltown

    I love having D.Hrapmann back on the offseason roster, this guy killed it last preseason! Suisham had a damn good season last year and it really is his job to lose, but if he gets injured in training camp its nice to know we have a solid guy like Hrapmann that could step in. The only knock on Hrapmann is his size, he could get flattened on kickoff coverage

  • mem359

    Suisham was surprisingly dependable at less than 50 yards. The Steelers just need to get one extra first down (instead of turtling) so he isn’t put in the situation of having to kick 50+ yarders.

  • steeltown

    I remember that 54yder, they should have never attempted that kick, bad judgement call by Tomlin on that day. The game was tied in the 4th Qtr with around 4mins left, they should’ve punted in an attempt to pin Tennessee back at their own goal line. Instead they go for it, miss it and give them the ball with good field position.. a few plays later the Titans go on to win with manageable field goal

  • emac2

    Times are tough when a kicker is questioned for not making all of his 50+ yard field goals. I think sometimes people forget that real sports isn’t like the xbox

  • Chris Ranieri

    Blaming a win/loss on a missed field goal = instant loss of credibility. I don’t need to go on a whole spiel of how that is true, but I think we can all agree one player, one coach, or one even one play doesn’t lose the game. Suisham is a dependable kicker in my book.

  • steeltown

    Funny I wasn’t a fan of his entering last season, but he showed he is a very capable kicker, I hope that continues

  • Matthew Marczi

    Not to mention the miss from 24 yards was because of a bad snap.

  • dgh57

    That 53 yarder vs the Bengals was another bad judgement call from Tomlin! (I don’t remember the exact circumstances the kick was made under)He pretty much knew his range wasn’t 54 yds. from the Tenn. game and he made a 52 yarder in the same game so 53 yards was stretching things! I remember thinking after that 2nd Bengals game that Suisham blew his chance at a Pro Bowl bid(after missing 2 FGs in 1 game) due to no fault of his own. Suisham proved last year to be a solid kicker!

  • steeltown

    You’re right that play was almost the exact same situation, closing minutes of the game, Teams tied and instead of punting to play field position they attempt a 53yder against the open end of Heinz field. If we were down 3pts I of course would go for it, but the game was tied, if you miss you’re giving the other Team stellar field position and a chance to win with minutes left in the game

    I guess its easy to sit here and say this or that now haha, I just feel that field position is a very important aspect of the game (and clock management)

  • Dom

    Wasn’t that short miss due to a botched snap?

  • profbillster

    I was at the game in Nashville, and Jesus would have had a hard time making that 54 field goal in the face of a heavy wind. I was in a section with a bunch of Steeler fans, and we all let out a collective groan when the kicking team went out on the field. I agree Steeltown- -they should have punted and played for OT.

  • hergieburbur


  • hergieburbur

    Two of his three misses came when the team was forced to rely on a guy without a 50 yard leg (he makes them once in a while, but not consistently by any means) to make a 53+ FG. Sorry, but those games aren’t on him.

  • hergieburbur

    The field position/when to kick aspect of the game is one that I personally think Tomlin is very bad at.

  • hergieburbur

    I don’t see that as a true knock myself. I am of the mind that if you have to rely on the size of your kicker on kickoff coverage, you already have bigger problems…

  • ecummins82

    You can’t blame Suisham for the one he missed against the Titans or the 53 yarder against the Bengals. The blame for the 54 yard miss against the Titans falls SOLEY on Tomlin (seeing as how to the best of my recollection there was still PLENTY of time left in the game and we should have just punted). Likewise to some extent with the Bengals game. I love Suisham, but I wasn’t too confident he was going to make a 53 yarder when his longest is 52.

  • Matt Searls

    Holy hrap

  • charles

    Right arm. I still like the Hrapper though. It is nice to have an abundance at a very critical spot.

  • steeltown


  • Rob

    In a game that the score is 13 to 10 there is no reason to blame the kicker or the defense they have done their jobs. The aspect that is not doing it’s job is the offense. One touchdown in four quarters is not acceptable, the other team did better and they had to face the number one defense in the nfl.