He finished last among regular kickers in field goal percentage in 2008, and the Redskins brought in competition for his spot.
But the 27-year-old Suisham, who signed his $1.01 million restricted free agent tender Monday, isn’t bothered by the presence of journeyman Dave Rayner.
“It really doesn’t change anything for me except that I might get a few less kicks than I’m used to in camp,” Suisham said. “Last year was pretty frustrating. I can make up all the excuses in the world. They really mean nothing. I had some difficulty adjusting to [holder Ryan Plackemeier], but ultimately my job is to put the ball through the uprights.”
Suisham did a fine job of that through his first 27 games with Washington. He made 89 percent of his field goal tries in a five-game stint at the end of 2006 and 83 percent in 2007.
And although he started the 2008 season at an 80 percent clip, he finished at 72.2 percent.
“Last year left a sour taste in my mouth,” Suisham said. “When you put numbers up like I did, that’s how you’re perceived. I’m not OK with that. I’m really looking forward to changing that this year. I appreciate that the team offered the tender. That shows me that they kind of understood some of the things that went on last year. It shows some faith in me that they didn’t want to lose me to free agency.”
Of course, the $1.01 million disappears if Suisham doesn’t make the team. Having been cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a rookie free agent in 2005, the Dallas Cowboys (2005 and 2006) and the San Francisco 49ers (2006), Suisham knows that feeling well.
So does Rayner, who broke in as a kickoff specialist with the Indianapolis Colts in 2005 and then kicked for the Green Bay Packers in 2006 and the Kansas City Chiefs for most of 2007 before moving on to brief stops with the San Diego Chargers at the end of 2007 and - after the Miami Dolphins cut him last summer - the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It’s a weird business, especially at my position where there’s only one per team,” said Rayner, who owns the football scoring record at Michigan State. “I’m ready to find the right place and the right coaching staff. Shaun didn’t have a great season this past season, but I’ve had a bad season, too. I want it to be a good competition and may the best man win.”
Rayner’s 71.2 career field goal percentage is lower than Suisham’s 77.9, but he prides himself on his kickoffs, another area in which Suisham struggled last year.
“I don’t know why I haven’t been more successful,” Rayner said. “I don’t care how much practice you do, how much training you have. You gotta go out and do it in games.”
And that’s where Suisham believes he has the advantage. He’s 25-for-39 from 40 yards and beyond in his career.
“As frustrating as it was last year, my confidence was never shaken,” Suisham said. “It still isn’t. I don’t get too high, and I don’t get too low. I just need to go out and do what I’ve done in the past and I’ll be a part of this team, hopefully for a long time.”
Note - The Redskins cut linebacker Matt Sinclair on Tuesday despite a shortage of bodies at the position. After making a good impression in his first NFL action for Washington in December 2007, Sinclair hurt his back in training camp last summer and spent the 2008 season on injured reserve.