Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin really doesn\’t know just how good or bad his kickoff coverage unit is thus far being as his kickers booted all four of their kickoffs last week against the New York Giants into the end zone for touchbacks. Because of that, Tomlin figures to have kicker Shaun Suisham ease up on his leg Monday night against the Washington Redskins.
“You really didn’t get a good evaluation of it because all of the kickoffs were out of the back of the end zone,” Tomlin told steelers.com. Hopefully we’ll put some in the field of play this week so we can see who can cover.”
Instead of kicking it deep tonight in Washington, Suisham will have a perfect opportunity to work on his directional kickoffs while giving the coverage units a chance to make plays. Last season, the Steelers kickoff coverage unit ranked 17th overall in the league as they allowed a 24.0 yard average per return.
New special teams coordinator Danny Smith was hired away from the Redskins during the offseason after Amos Jones left for Arizona, so he still has some evaluating left to do over the course of these final three preseason games. As a result of that, look for the Steelers to mix and mix their coverage units throughout the game and for Suisham to heed Tomlin\’s wish for shorter kickoffs.