Keisel enjoys his work, no matter the situation

| Thursday, May 21, 2009

All around the NFL, players entering the final year of their contracts are boycotting minicamps and voluntary workouts because they want new deals.

The same is not true in Pittsburgh, where several Steelers entering their final contract years report to work without protest.

"That's how it is around here," said Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel, who is entering the final year of his contract. "Everyone understands what's going on, but it's just something we don't talk about. The guys we have on this team really makes it enjoyable to come to work."

Keisel is joined by nose tackle Casey Hampton, free safety Ryan Clark, running back Willie Parker, tight end Heath Miller, center Justin Hartwig and kicker Jeff Reed among players with one year remaining on their contracts.

Linebacker James Harrison and receiver Hines Ward re-signed. Tackles Max Starks and Willie Colon, who signed one-year deals, become free agents again after next year.

Keisel was asked if he would prefer to re-sign before the start of the season.

"It's something that's kind of out of your hands," he said. "You just have to go to work. I'm looking for the opportunity to hopefully repeat. I feel excited about our opportunity, and hopefully, we can seize it. That's my focus. I'm not really concerned about the contract.

"I just want this year to be my best yet. I feel like every year I want to improve. Once I can't do that, it's time for me to hang up the cleats."

Keisel, entering his fourth season as a starter, finished with 34 tackles and one sack despite missing six games because of injuries.

He said he isn't taking it personally that first-round draft pick Evander "Ziggy" Hood, who was a 4-3 defensive tackle at Missouri, is learning how to play defensive end with the Steelers.

"It's the nature of the business," said Keisel, a seventh-round draft pick in 2002. "Obviously, you've got to draft for your future. They saw some potential in Ziggy that he can come in and fill-in for us. We have to start getting some youth in our line. It's inevitable. We knew it was coming, eventually. I think they got a good player."

Keisel will be making his second trip to the White House today. His first trip was as a backup after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL. He said he can't wait to meet President Barack Obama, whom he supported in the election.

"I'm excited," he said. "It's kind of history in the making. The first black president, and we get to be the first (NFL) team to meet him. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity.

"I'd like to see more (this time). We saw a couple of rooms that I think basically everyone gets to see. I'm going to try to go through the trap doors and see if I can get lost in there."

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