Steelers DE Keisel returning to lineup
Brett Keisel is in his 12th season with the Pittsburgh Steelers
and the 35-year-old defensive end realizes it might also be his
If he’s on his way out, at least he’ll get a chance to do it on
Keisel expects to play on Sunday when the Steelers (6-8) travel
to Green Bay (7-6-1). He missed four of the previous five games
with plantar fasciitis in his left foot but practiced on Friday
without any issues and is listed as probable.
With two weeks left, Keisel could sway the Steelers to keep him
another year by performing well. He also could be auditioning for a
spot on another roster. But, most importantly, he has a chance to
slip on his familiar No. 99 jersey after missing most of the last
month. Keisel started at Baltimore Thanksgiving night before the
injury flared up again, forcing him to leave the game after just
”I don’t know, I think (the re-injury) could have happened,
even if I would have waited,” Keisel said. ”So, I’m glad it
happened and that I was still able to come back. It’s possible that
I couldn’t play this week, but I’ve done enough standing around.
I’m a worker bee. (And) it’s just a matter of getting back to
feeling normal again.”
Keisel believed he had to push it in practice to get an idea if
he could withstand the intensity of game conditions. Defensive
coordinator Dick LeBeau was encouraged by the results.
”He’s been getting a little better every week,” LeBeau said.
”I think he’s in a more positive frame of mind, just being around
him. I really think that he feels he’s got a real legitimate shot.
We’ll see. The fact that he has limited stiffness, which you would
Keisel doesn’t shy away from the fact he could be in the final
days of his career.
”I also wanted to go down fighting with my teammates,” Keisel
said. ”Whatever happens, I wanted to be out there with them and
doing my job. (So), I feel good, like I could still play, but we’ll
see what happens. Our trainers have done a good job getting me
ready, and I feel better. So, I think we’ll be ready to go.”
As far as Keisel’s future with the Steelers, he wasn’t able to
say what he would do if he doesn’t return to the club that drafted
him in the seventh round in 2002. But Keisel realized that the
Steelers could make the decision for him like they did with Hines
Ward, Aaron Smith, James Farrior, Chris Hoke and Casey Hampton. All
were fixtures on teams that went to three Super Bowls in six years
between 2005-10. All either retired, were released or not re-signed
when their final contract was up.
”That’s the nature of this business,” Keisel said. ”(And)
whatever happens I’m grateful for my time here. I’m grateful for
the success that we’ve had on this team. (And) I want to go out on
a positive note. Of course, it would be tough to move on. I bleed
black and gold. I’m a Yinzer. I love this city. I plan on raising
my family here. So, it’s going to be a tough decision when it’s
Keisel noted that he’ll consult his family to make the final
”I love being a Steeler, and I love being part of this locker
room,” he added. ”It’s been awesome, and I hope we can keep it
going. You hate thinking it can come to an end. But I’ve got a lot
of great memories, and I think we can build fond memories every day
here. That’s been the best part.”
Notes: Along with Keisel (foot), OT Kelvin Beachum (knee), WR
Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder), OT Marcus Gilbert (ankle), DT Steve
McLendon (ankle) and WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot) all practiced and
are listed as probable for Sunday.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org