The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Pro

August 14, 2013

All revved up

Keisel ready to go in 12th season with Steelers

LATROBE — Brett Keisel realizes this could be his final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only NFL team the veteran defensive end has ever played for.

Keisel, who is in the final year of his contract, has no plans to retire at season’s end, and the reliable 34-year-old doesn’t plan to let those emotions affect his play on the field either.

“I’m not saying it will be my last season,” Keisel said. “I’m just saying it’s the last year on my contract. That’s all it is. I’m excited about this year, and we’ll see what happens after that.”

Age hasn’t caught up to the energetic Keisel, who is playing the best football of his career. Keisel started 30 of the previous 32 games, finishing with 58 tackles and a career-best 40 quarterback pressures last year. He earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2010 and was named a third alternate the following year.

“I don’t feel like age has bothered him at all,” Steelers’ linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. “Brett has been here for a long time and he provides energy to our defense. He has some type of youth juice.”

The Steelers are in the process of instituting a youth movement on defense, revamping an aging veteran group that made three Super Bowl appearances and captured two championships. Several long-time members of those championship teams, vital to the Steelers’ success, are gone. The list includes Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke, and James Farrior, in addition to Casey Hampton and James Harrison, who weren’t retained in the offseason.

Keisel, despite his stellar play, realizes he could be next. It’s a sensation fellow 12-year veteran Larry Foote knows all too well.

“It’s a feeling that comes on later in your career where you know this could be your last year, it could be your last game,” said Foote, who was also drafted in 2002, the same year as Keisel.

“You have to work that much harder, be that much more focused because you’re trying to prolong your career as long as you can.”

Keisel counts $4.5 million against the salary cap this year, and has 2011 first-round draft pick Cameron Heyward playing as his backup, a potential heir-apparent to the starting job at defensive end.

Keisel, the seventh-round draft pick out of BYU in 2002, is taking it in stride.

“I’m just enjoying it,” Keisel said. “I enjoy being a leader, helping out some of these young guys, and still having the opportunity to play.”

The young guys enjoy Keisel’s veteran presence.

“He helps you play fast, helps you play hard, and helps you play smart,” nose tackle Steve McLendon said.

“Brett has two Super Bowls. We’re trying to get where Brett is. We’re trying to bring him number three.”

Keisel plays a big brother mentor role to the other members of the defensive line, while also providing energy and a stabilizing presence following the recent losses of Hampton and Smith.

“We need his leadership and everything he provides to get us through,” fifth-year defensive end Ziggy Hood said. “When we need answers we look for him. He’s always going to provide words of wisdom. If he leads us through, I’m going to follow.”

Keisel is unsure how his story will unfold. Another Super Bowl ring would provide the ideal ending, and he intends to do everything in his power to make sure that happens.

“I want to enjoy this year,” Keisel said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with everything. I’m going to go out and give it my all and have fun and see what happens.

“If this is the end, then I want to go out on top. If it’s not the end, I’ll be excited to be here.”

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pro
  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pirates Game 1 0415 Pirates edge out Reds in suspended game

    After all those home runs and an overnight delay, it was settled by a single.
    Andrew McCutchen doubled and came around on Russell Martin’s single in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates an 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the completion of a game that spanned two days and 10 home runs.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0414 Pressure on Penguins to capture Cup

    The statistics are gaudy.
    And if the Pittsburgh Penguins can’t find a way to extend their season into the final days of spring, ultimately forgettable.
    The same team that led the NHL in man games lost due to injury (more than 500) also earned 109 points, led the Metropolitan Division from mid-October on and received another peerless effort from star Sidney Crosby, who topped the league with 104 points and is a near lock for the second MVP award of his career.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads