Suisham's Toehold

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By Mike Wise
Thursday, September 13, 2007

When the ball sailed through the goal posts on Sunday, just right of the middle, and the Redskins had won, Shaun Suisham had a thought:

"I could do this for a living."

Well, okay, the first thought was: "Oh my God! I just won a football game for the first time in my life! I can't believe it!"

But after that.

"There are a lot of guys out there who can kick a football," said Suisham, an affable kid from southern Ontario who sent the Dolphins packing in overtime. "Now that I'm in, I gotta hold on. I don't want to let it slip out of my hands."

Suisham (pronounced SWEE-zuhm) is a window into the prove-it-or-lose-it world of the Redskins. Clinton Portis needs to show he's healthy and hungry. A humiliated defense from a year ago needs to show it hasn't been defanged. Jason Campbell needs to show a relative pup can lead. Joe Gibbs and some of his staff of codgers need to prove they can coach in a kiddie-corps, video-obsessed league.

Suisham needs to prove something, too, that he can stay employed in a profession known for its job insecurity, that he can stick with an organization used to playing cut-and-paste with the kicking game.

Gibbs's second era has not produced any heir to Mark Moseley, who kicked for 13 years in Washington, from 1974 to '86.

It's telling that in 2006 -- the year free agent fortunes were spent on Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle El, Todd Collins, Andre Carter, Christian Fauria and, yes, Adam Archuleta -- little or no thought was given to wooing Adam Vinatieri or Mike Vanderjagt.

Some pin that on Gibbs's loyalty to John Hall. In 2003 Hall was the last kicker to play in all 16 games for the Redskins. But injuries robbed him of his consistency, so Ola Kimrin, Nick Novak and others were brought in to fill the void. To date, no one has. Suisham is the eighth kicker to work with long snapper Ethan Albright in seven years.

Suisham knows the opportunity is there to create a niche. Now, if he can just leave last week behind and focus on Philadelphia on Monday night. Signed by the Redskins after he was released by Dallas last fall, he was 4 for 4 against the Eagles in the teams' last meeting in December. He wants you to know he played at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night two seasons ago with the Cowboys. He points out that he also played there with Bowling Green three years ago against Temple. "We scored 70 -- I kicked 10 extra points," he said, proudly.

Hey, you hold on to what you can in this line of work.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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