LATROBE, Pa. - Matt Spaeth said he did his best to console Shaun Suisham after the Hall of Fame Game but suspected the well-intended effort wasn't nearly enough.
"What do you say to a guy like that?" Spaeth asked this afternoon, recalling the immediate aftermath of Suisham suffering a knee injury on Sunday night in Canton, Ohio, one that will require surgery tomorrow.
"I just kind of told him to hang in there," Spaeth continued. "Obviously, he was very bummed. This means a lot to him, so it was pretty sad to see."
The Steelers' immediate response was to sign free-agent kicker Garrett Hartley after an audition this morning at Heinz Field.
Hartley kicked a 40-yard field goal in overtime to send New Orleans to Super Bowl XLIV and then hit from 46, 44 and 47 yards in the Saints' 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. In doing so he became the first kicker in Super Bowl history to hit from 40-plus yards in the same game.
Hartley was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts for Cleveland last season after going 22-for-30 in New Orleans in 2013.
"He's an established guy," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's a been-there-done-that guy".
"We'll get to know him along the way."
The Pittsburgh Steelers return to training camp practice at Saint Vincent College following their appearance in the NFL/Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio
Hartley will have big shoes to fill in Pittsburgh.
"I think it's really big," Spaeth added. "(Suisham) is one of our better players. He's a great kicker. It's very valuable to have a good kicker, especially in the conditions that we play in.
"I think it's going to be a big loss. He's a great kicker. He's a great friend, a great teammate and just a great guy to have around, so it's a big loss in a lot of areas."
Guard David DeCastro suspects the Steelers haven't seen the last of Suisham.
"I'm sure he'll be around and helping out guys and helping coach up and do what he can," DeCastro said.