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Wednesday, December 23: Oh Yeah, It's Dallas Week

Posted by Matt Terl on December 23, 2009 – 11:54 am

Let’s say — and I know this is a crazy hypothetical, but play along with me — let’s say you’re a Redskins fan who’s feeling a little demoralized. Team was just DEMOLISHED on national television, coaching rumors are flying, you’re distracted by the holidays and hockey and who knows what-all else, and you’re having a little trouble drumming up the usual furious motivation for Dallas Week. Well, here’s something new to get cranky about.

Full disclosure: Shaun Suisham was a blog favorite when he was here. Good guy, always willing to answer a question or suggest some sort of blogging topic, always willing to put up with my dumb Canadian stereotypes. As a player, he missed only three field goals this season — albeit three important ones — and as a person he was classy and professional even when he was summarily cut after the New Orleans game. I have no hard feelings toward Shaun Suisham whatsoever, especially on a personal level.

Still, when you watch his Tuesday media session with the Dallas media, it’s hard not to get just a little bit fired up when you see him say things like this:

“Certainly it’s a bit of a surprise. If you would’ve asked me a month ago would I have thought I’d be in this situation, no. When it comes down to it, though, it’s just about kicking field goals, and that’s what I’m here to do. And, man, I’m so excited to be back here in Dallas.”

And this:

“I’m excited to see a lot of familiar faces. I’m real excited to be here.”

And this:

“When you’re a kicker — or a player — all you can control is your performance on the field. And when you have a bad play, you know, you’re vulnerable. Players don’t make decisions; my only job is to kick, and I’m happy to be here in Dallas.”

Oh, and this:
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Kicker Graham Gano Signed To Replace Suisham

Posted by Matt Terl on December 8, 2009 – 12:36 pm

What you’re looking at up there is the end of the Inaugural Championship Game for the United Football League, with the Las Vegas Locomotives triumphing over the Florida Something-Or-Others on a 33-yard field goal in overtime. That field goal was kicked by one Graham Gano, a Florida State product who is now — oh, by the way — the new placekicker for your Washington Redskins. (For the record, I’m pretty sure that’s not the official TV presentation of the UFL Championship game.)

Gano was with the Baltimore Ravens in preseason, although he lost the job to Steven Hauschka, who eventually lost the job himself. Against the Redskins in the preseason opener, Gano was 1/2 on field goals, but in his championship stint with the Locomotives, he was 13/16 on field goals with a long of 53 yards and 20/20 for extra points. (I’m pretty sure they use a regulation ball in the UFL, but don’t know for certain.)

Shaun Suisham will be released to make room for Gano, and he departs the Redskins kicking 18-of-21 field goals; all three misses turned out to be crucial to the outcome of their games, though, and that’s probably what spelled the end for Suisham. He leaves as the team’s leading kicker by percentage at more than 80%, beating out Chip Lohmiller. (Minimum 100 attempts.) Read more »

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Shaun Suisham's Apology

Posted by Matt Terl on December 6, 2009 – 6:02 pm

There’s a lot of blame being spread around in the wake of this latest fourth-quarter collapse, and Shaun Suisham is taking a ton of it. It’s hard to argue with; he’s the kicker, he missed what should’ve been a gimme kick to push the Redskins’ lead to 10 with 1:52 left. The game would be tied 33 seconds later, and it was all downhill from there.

In the locker room after the game, long snapper Ethan Albright was claiming responsibility for the missed kick, but Suisham was having none of it. Standing in front of his locker wearing a sweater and looking like he might actually cry, he addressed an enormous crowd of media. Read more »

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Shaun Suisham Was Happy For Mike Sellers (And Hunter Smith Too)

Posted by Matt Terl on November 18, 2009 – 4:30 pm

We’ll get to the part where kicker Shaun Suisham WAS happy in a bit, but this story starts elsewhere: Suisham had read on some obscure blog somewhere that Hunter Smith had no intention of throwing him the ball on the touchdown play that ultimately went to Mike Sellers, and he was not pleased.

“I talked to Hunter about that, because I wasn’t happy,” Suisham told me today, trying very hard to look stern and serious. “I left him a voicemail. My wife told me it was on the website. After further discussion, he says he was joking, and he was hoping the tone came through in the article. So we settled that, and I’m okay with it now.”
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Hunter Smith Did Not Have Faith In Shaun Suisham As A Receiver

Posted by Matt Terl on November 16, 2009 – 3:00 pm

Hey, maybe you heard somewhere that punter Hunter Smith threw a touchdown pass yesterday? It’s true!

You’ve probably also heard by now that Smith was a multiple-position threat at Sherman High School, including quarterback — “I was a better receiver than anything, and went to college as that,” he said after the game, before settling into much more standard athlete-speak. “I just count myself as a punter who happened to be healthy enough to be on the field and threw a ball.”

But you may not have realized that — because the play started in field goal formation –kicker Shaun Suisham was running a route as a receiver on the play. Which is not to say that he was a valid check-down option, of course. Read more »

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Sam Paulescu Seems Like A Pretty Straightforward Guy

Posted by Matt Terl on November 6, 2009 – 2:23 pm

When I wrote about new Redskins punter Sam Paulescu yesterday, I mentioned just how lively the position has been over the last two years, but I don’t think I gave the basic numbers: Paulescu, assuming he punts the ball on Sunday, will be the fourth guy to that for the Redskins this season, and the sixth in the last two. I also recapped much of the bloggable zaniness of the last five guys who punted the ball, and speculated that we’d find out more about Paulescu’s quirks today.

In a brief conversation today, though, Paulescu seems largely free of obvious quirks. Where Glenn Pakulak talked about the nomadic lifestyle of the journeyman punter and his side gig as a bartender, Paulescu sounded pretty darn goal-oriented when I asked what he’d been doing during the season. Read more »

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Chris Cooley Kicks Field Goals At Practice

Posted by Matt Terl on October 23, 2009 – 5:04 pm

Head coach Jim Zorn was full of praise for kicker Shaun Suisham during his post-practice press briefing today. Asked if the holder last year was hurting Suisham’s percentages, Zorn said, “A kicker has to go out and kick, whoever is holding. If I held and the ball was flat on the tee – he has still got to hit it, right? But there is a rhythm. He has worked very hard and he has concentrated on the rhythm of the kick. I think his holder has given him more and more confidence, but he has done it. He has developed the rhythm, the steadiness, he is more patient, and he is not so much attacking the ball early. He saw a lot of different types of rhythms last year. He is much smoother and I think that is what happens to a kicker. He has found his rhythm.”

Also finding his rhythm kicking today? Chris Cooley. The start of practice was delayed by the shooting of the team photo, which also required an extra uniform change. “I had extra time because I brought out my extra gear for practice before the photo,” Cooley explained, “so when everyone else had to change, you could just consider this my early warm-up.”


Cooley did well, especially in the early efforts you see in the video. (Later, he had a miss that came off the tee low and fast and nearly clocked Ethan Albright in the head.) “I hit from 40 yards with some coaching from Shaun,” he told me, “but I used to be solid from 50. When Koz [former Redskins TE Brian Kozlowski] was here, we would play the kicking games a lot. We were out punting and kicking field goals all the time so I actually got pretty good. But I haven’t kicked at all lately.” Read more »

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Hunter Smith Is Hopeful, Shaun Suisham Is Thankful (In The Canadian Tradition)

Posted by Matt Terl on October 14, 2009 – 4:26 pm

As I mentioned this morning, Glenn Pakulak is back in the building (and still totally enthused to be here, too: “Alive for another week,” he said today).

But don’t rule Hunter Smith out just yet. “We’re just taking it day-to-day,” Smith said, “see how it feels. It’s significantly better than it was this time last week, but I couldn’t make any promises on playing or not.”

Smith was exceedingly frustrated about not having been able to contribute last week — “It was difficult,” he said bluntly. “I don’t like it. I wanna be out there helping our team, but like I said, at the same time, I wanna be well when I come back.” — but he was complimentary of Pakulak’s work in relief.

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Wednesday, September 23: Lindsay Czarniak And Shaun Suisham Enjoy A Canadian Delicacy

Posted by Matt Terl on September 23, 2009 – 8:20 am

A few weeks ago, someone requested “poutine” from the folks who make lunch here. It’s a Canadian food, french fries plus gravy plus cheese curds, and I wound up running around talking to the players about who (Shaun Suisham) might want such a thing (Shaun Suisham).

Well, for her “Lunch With Lindsay” segment this week, NBC-4‘s Lindsay Czarniak sat down with Suisham, and guess what dish she managed to to concoct for him. http://www.nbcwashington.com/syndication?id=60328717&path=%2Fnews%2Fsports

Between serving poutine and conducting the interview in a hockey rink, I think it’s safe to say that Czarniak has now outdone me in the category of “falling back on Canadian stereotypes”. Good interview, though, and the first one I’ve seen where Suisham really conveys just how much keeping the Redskins gig means to him. Read more »

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Practice – A Kicking Competition! Or Not.

Posted by Matt Terl on August 31, 2009 – 5:49 pm

Despite the absence of Albert Haynesworth, Kareem Moore, Carlos Rogers, and Randy Thomas from this afternoon’s practice, the big news was the kicking competition. Each of the two competitors for the placekicker position attempted seven field goals of varying lengths and in various simulated pressure situations. Shaun Suisham made six and missed one; Dave Rayner made five and missed two.

This was, frankly, a pretty inconclusive result. Here’s head coach Jim Zorn on the subject after practice: “It was good,” he said of the competition. “They both made most of their field goals. I thought it was interesting to see the rhythm and the timing. There are some things that will show up, I think. They’re competing hard. Again, we hope they get some kicks in the game so that we can see more. It will be a last minute decision as we go along here because it’s not clear.”

Meanwhile, these fourteen kicks were such a big deal that the media was allowed to stay out on the sidelines a bit later than usual so they could watch, and the two kickers were swarmed as they came off the field after practice.

Problem was, what was presented to the media as something decisive and interesting didn’t have quite the same cachet for the kickers themselves. Read more »

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