PITTSBURGH — Jeff Reed came through again in the Steelers’ opener.
He kicked a 33-yard field goal in overtime to give the Steelers a 13-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field on Thursday night. His 32-yard field goal with 2:57 remaining in regulation enabled the Steelers to send the game into overtime.
Reed has been extremely reliable since being signed as a free agent during the 2002 season as he has made 83 percent of his field-goal attempts, connecting on 164 of 198. He kicked his ninth career game-winning field goal on Thursday, including his third in overtime, and has also made 14 straight attempts in the postseason.
However, it became more apparent this past week that Reed could be moving on after this season, his eighth with the Steelers.
He is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and turned down what he considered a low-ball contract offer two days before the opener. The Steelers have a policy of not negotiating contracts during the season.
“I’m not mad at the organization,” Reed said. “We’re on good terms. I know what I’m capable of making (in terms of salary), and I believe I’ll eventually get what I want from someone. Now isn’t the time to talk about money, though. The season has started and that’s where all my time and energy should be spent.”
Reed figures to be attractive to many teams if he reaches free agency, though he says he is not looking that far ahead.
“I got an offer and turned it down, so move on,” Reed said.
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Looking ahead: The Steelers will get a chance to scout their next opponent, Chicago, on television tonight as the Bears visit Green Bay in NBC’s national game. All eyes will be on quarterback Jay Cutler, who will be making his Bears’ debut after being acquired from Denver in a major trade on April 2.
Bears coach Lovie Smith believes Cutler is ready to revitalize an offense that was 26th in the NFL in total yardage last season.
“He’s earned his stripes with the players in the locker room,” Smith said. “Normally, the way you do that is just come in and not say a whole lot, go to work and that’s what Jay did. He’s been super since Day 1. He’s fit in well.
“But it’s about performance, too. Guys will always give you a chance, but they need to see you in certain situations. They’ve had a chance to see Jay in every imaginable situation except for the regular season.
“When you get on the football field, you have a chance to see exactly the type of player he is, and that helps a lot, too.”
The big question is whether Cutler is surrounded by enough weapons, especially at receiver. Devin Hester has 71 receptions in three seasons and Earl Bennett, the other starting wideout, was strictly a return specialist last season as a rookie and has yet to catch a pass in the NFL.
“We don’t really worry about what anybody else is saying about our receivers or tight ends or running backs,” Cutler said. “We think we’ve got a good group. I have a lot of faith in those guys and I know that they’re very confident going into this one. As long as they go out there and do what they’re supposed to do and execute the offense, we’re not going to have any problems.”
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Changes in Green Bay: The Packers will use their new 3-4 defensive alignment in the regular season for the first time tonight, and the switch from the 4-3 has left their two middle linebackers, Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk, with lesser roles.
Both were first-round draft picks, Barnett in 2003 and Hawk in 2006 from Ohio State.
While both will start tonight, they may not see much action beyond playing in the base defense. Hawk was giving way to Brandon Chillar, who is better in pass coverage and blitzing the quarterback, in nickel packages at the end of the preseason.
John Perrotto has been covering Pittsburgh sports for more than 20 years.
PITTSBURGH — Jeff Reed came through again in the Steelers’ opener.
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