Steelers notebook: Team extends Suisham’s contract through 2018
By pushing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s extension talks into next year, the Steelers were hoping to lock up some of their players who are facing expiring contract.
Shaun Suisham on Friday became the first benefactor.
The Steelers announced they extended Suisham’s contract through the 2018 season. Suisham, 32, signed a four-year, $6.35 million contract in 2011. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Suisham has converted 87 percent of his field goals since joining the Steelers late in the 2010 season, including 58 of 63 over the past two seasons.
The Steelers had less than $6 million under the salary cap before Suisham’s signing. Other notable players heading into the final year of their deals are cornerback Cortez Allen, tackle Marcus Gilbert and linebacker Jason Worilds, who in March agreed to a one-year transition tag worth $9.75 million.
• Shamarko Thomas is getting a nasty reputation. It’s a reputation the second-year safety can only acknowledge with a smile.
The Steelers have conducted four padded training camp practices, and each one involved Thomas clobbering somebody, whether it was during a live drill or not. “It’s not like I can’t help myself. I am just preparing myself,” Thomas said. “I am just trying to keep my shoulder pads underneath me and keep working hard. All I know is one speed. I just fly around.” Thomas had that same reputation at Syracuse, and that’s one of the reasons the Steelers were willing to trade up in the fourth round in 2013 to select him. After a nondescript rookie season, Thomas is showing his true colors this year. And the 5-foot-9, 217-pounder doesn’t discriminate. Thomas has knocked hard to the ground running backs and receivers but also has run through offensive linemen Mike Adams and Maurkice Pouncey.
• After a season in which he caught 110 passes for 1,499 yards, receiver Antonio Brown doesn’t have to sweat anything anymore — not even his feet. While stretching during a recent practice, Brown removed his cleats and socks and grabbed a stick of antiperspirant from a trainer and rubbed it all over his feet. It wasn’t because his feet smelled. It was because his feet — like most players during training camp — sweat while going through a two-plus hour practice. Excess sweat can cause blisters that can cause missed practice time, and if you know Brown, he is not about to miss time on the field.
• Cornerback Ike Taylor has followed around the opponent’s best receiver for the better part of the past decade, and if it’s up to him, he will continue to do so even though he was relegated to the right side for the final month of 2013. “I’ve been bred on following the team’s best receiver,” Taylor said. “If it comes down to it, I am doing it.” Taylor struggled at times last year before getting shifted to the right side only starting with a December game against Miami, Taylor allowed only 47 yards per game the rest of the season.
• The Steelers have two first-round picks on the offensive line in center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro. Even though this will be the third season in which they’ve played next to each other, the two don’t have much time playing together. With DeCastro getting hurt in the preseason of his rookie year and missing all but the final three games coupled with Pouncey going down in the first quarter of the opener last year, the two have played 146 regular-season snaps together. “Man, I am excited,” Pouncey said. “It is great getting a chance to play with him more.”
• Tackle Marcus Gilbert, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, said his agent Drew Rosenhaus has been talking to the Steelers about a contract extension. “We will know in a few weeks,” Gilbert said. “I am either going to get it now or wait it out. For me, it is all about getting better with my guys.”
• NFL officials were on campus reviewing the new rules and points of emphasis for the 2014 season with coaches, players and media. The two biggest points of emphasis was illegal contact within 5 yards or the line of scrimmage and unsportsmanlike conduct, specifically the use of abusive, threatening or insulting language toward opponents, teammates, game officials or representatives of the league that includes racial slurs, comments regarding sexual orientation or other verbal abuse.