Steelers sign kicker Hartley to replace injured Suisham

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) takes a knee in front of newly-acquired place kicker Garrett Hartley (8) as they go through holding drills during NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) takes a knee in front of newly-acquired place kicker Garrett Hartley (8) as they go through holding drills during NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

LATROBE, Pa. (AP) – The Pittsburgh Steelers replaced the most accurate kicker in team history with a former Super Bowl champion.

The Steelers signed Garrett Hartley on Tuesday after Shaun Suisham injured his left knee in a preseason loss to Minnesota on Sunday night.

“He’s an established guy,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He’s a been-there, done-that guy. He did a nice job (Tuesday), and we’ll get to know him along the way.”

Suisham, entering his 11th season and sixth with the Steelers, connected on a 36-yard field goal during the second quarter in the Hall of Fame game. But he injured his knee while attempting to make a tackle on the opening kickoff of the second half.

Tomlin said Suisham will undergo knee surgery Wednesday.

“I’ll update his status after the procedure,” Tomlin said. “I think that’s appropriate.”

Hartley, a career 81.7 percent kicker, spent six seasons with New Orleans, and played in two games last year in Cleveland, making all three tries for the Browns.

The 29-year-old helped the Saints to a championship in 2010 when he kicked the winning field goal in the NFC title game and became the first kicker in Super Bowl history to convert three field goals of more than 40 yards. Hartley, entering his seventh season, also once held the league record for most consecutive made field goals to start a career with 16 until the mark was broken in 2012.

Hartley struggled with bouts of inconsistency following the Saints’ Super Bowl championship and missed the 2011 season with a hip injury. He opened his career connecting on 42 of his first 49 kicks (85 percent), but hit 43 of his last 55, just 78 percent.

It’s a story similar to Suisham, who struggled at Dallas and Washington before finding a home in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers brought on Suisham mid-season in November 2010 to replace former kicker Jeff Reed and he’s been dependable ever since.

The 33-year-old Suisham ranks first in team history with an 87.9 percent conversion mark and fourth with 124 made kicks. Last summer, the Steelers signed him to a four-year $12.5 million extension that runs through the 2018 season.

“He was a great locker room guy and just a great teammate to have around,” said safety Robert Golden, a special teams captain in 2014.

Suisham, also special teams captain last year, connected on 90.6 percent of his field goals last year for a career-best 132 points, the third-highest single-season total in team history. He’s made at least 90 percent of his tries in four of five seasons with Pittsburgh.

Suisham currently has an NFL-best streak of 30 consecutive makes from 40-to-49 yards as two of only three misses last season were beyond 50 yards.

“He wants to be here and help the team,” long snapper Greg Warren said. “He feels like he should be here and if he’s not, he’s letting everybody down. He’s a stand-up guy and a great teammate.”

NOTES: Steelers’ WR Martavis Bryant practiced Tuesday after undergoing a minor elbow procedure about a week ago. LB James Harrison practiced for the first time in training camp, while WR Markus Wheaton, RB DeAngelo Williams and S Shamarko Thomas worked in limited capacity. Golden (knee), DT Dan McCullers (hamstring), S Ross Ventrone (leg), LB Vince Williams (hamstring) and LB Jordan Zumwalt (groin) were among those who didn’t practice.

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(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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