PITTSBURGH - Dented bumpers and busted headlights on area highways were not the only casualties of the snow and ice that fell across Pittsburgh overnight Monday.
Steelers placekicker Shaun Suisham slipped and fell on iced over steps outside his West Allegheny apartment Tuesday morning, causing a “moderate to severe” ankle sprain in his planting foot, team doctors told reporters.
Speaking with the media at a previously scheduled press briefing, Steelers head athletic trainer John Norwig said that Suisham “is experiencing a lot of pain when any pressure is applied to the ankle.”
Head coach Mike Tomlin was not available for comment, but Special Teams coach Al Everest told the Post Gazette that the injury, while far from career threatening, is “80-90% likely” to keep Suisham out of Sundays Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers.
“You don’t bounce back in a couple of days from a sprain as significant as this one, especially in your planting foot,” Everest said. “This is a 2-3 week injury. A kicker places a lot of weight on his plant foot when he goes to kick the ball.”
The injury is a significant concern for the Steelers, as Suisham had been very reliable since replacing Jeff Reed in Week 11. Suisham made 14 of 15 field goal attempts over the final 7 weeks of the regular season, an AFC-best 93.3% accuracy rate that ranked 2nd behind only Minnesota’s Ryan Longwell among all NFL kickers with at least 15 tries.
When asked why Suisham was leaving his residence on Tuesday, when the rest of the Steelers traveled to Dallas on Monday, a team spokesperson said that the kicker had "a personal obligation" late Monday that he had to attend. The spokesperson would not elaborate further.
Who will replace Suisham is an open question. The Steelers cannot trade for or sign any kickers currently under contract with another NFL team, and the free agent market is thin at best. One of the top candidates may be former Washington kicker Nigel Gruff, while the long-retired Daniel Ruettiger is also said to still be in athletic shape, and could be an option.
Suishams injury is the second strange accident to sideline a star Steeler from the Super Bowl. Yesterday, NFL.com reported that linebacker James Harrison suffered signifigant 1st and 2nd degree burns after falling asleep on a beach in Hawaii during the Pro Bowl festivities last weekend.
Suisham’s ankle will be reevaluated by team doctors Wednesday.