Rookie Kicker Connects From 57

IRVING, TX. - It's "SWEE-zum." New Dallas kicker Shaun Suisham said he's heard every imaginable way to pronounce -- or perhaps butcher -- his last name. Apparently his new teammates haven't mastered it yet.

Cornerback Terence Newman clearly hadn't overheard the Cowboys rookie as he said his name repeatedly in front of his first official media throng at his locker.

"Shooshim? Swisher? Sushi?" Newman asked. "It's a tough name. But he can kick."

Undrafted out of Bowling Green, Suisham signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After Pittsburgh released him, he signed with Dallas. The Cowboys released him, too, but when José Cortez struggled, Suisham was signed to the practice squad. After Cortez shanked a 29-yard field in Seattle Sunday, he was released, and Suisham got the call he'd been waiting for.

"Coming in here, being on the practice roster, I was hoping to get this opportunity," Suisham said. "Unfortunately, José isn't here -- and he's a good guy. But I prepared for this. I was hoping to get that phone call, and I did."

The Wallaceburg, Ontario native said that when he was released by the Cowboys at earlier this season, Parcells was positive and encouraging.

"He's been great with me," Suisham said. "He sat me down, and he told me it's something that a lot of kickers have to go through."

Rather than head back to Canada, Suisham stayed. He stayed, and he kicked. He didn't have a snapper and a holder, but he was out every day, kicking. In his spare time, he and his girlfriend explored Dallas.

"I had a little more time on my hands," he said, "and it was really nice to have someone to share it with."

While Parcells might have been encouraging when he released Suisham, he -- like some of his players -- has struggled with Suisham's name. At a recent press conference, he referred to Suisham as "Scott."

Suisham laughed when told of his coach's snafu.

"He can call me whatever he wants," Suisham said. "He expects a lot of me, but I expect a lot of myself. We'll have a good relationship as long as I perform."

Performance, of course, is what determines any player's tenure with a team. WIth kickers, the leash sometimes seems shorter, because their mistakes are more magnified than those of many other players.

"You don't have a lot of options," Parcells said. "(When a kicker is struggling,) you just try and work through it. You have to hope you hit on someone who has a little confidence and a little consistency. Unfortunately, Billy (Cundiff) got hurt in training camp -- I can't do anything about that."

Parcells said the decision to switch from Cortez to Suisham doesn't mean the rookie is ensured of a position beyond this season … or even through the end of the season.

"Hey, there are other kickers out there," Parcells said. "I think this guy can kick off. This is one guythat we had earmarked … we think a lot of him. We hope we've hit on him."

Whether Suisham is a hit with his new coach remains to be seen, but at Wednesday's practice, he made a strong impression on his teammates.

"He had us 'ooh-ing' and 'ah-ing' out there today," Newman said. "I think he hit one from about 57 yards today -- we were out there cheering him on."

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