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Keisel always hoped to return to Steelers

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Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
The Steelers' Brett Keisel talks with Jason Worilds on the bench during their preseason game against the Eagles on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

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By Alan Robinson
Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, 6:54 p.m.
 

Defensive end Brett Keisel still doesn't know where he'll play or how much he'll get on the field.

“We really didn't get into that too much. They just said, ‘We want you back,' ” said Keisel, who re-signed with the Steelers this week but did not play Thursday in Philadelphia.

Coach Mike Tomlin also said Keisel's role hasn't been finalized. But Keisel, who turns 36 next month, provides depth — and gives the Steelers options — along a relatively thin defensive line.

Keisel, who has spent his entire 12-season career in Pittsburgh, felt like he still could play when his contract expired at the end of last season. He missed all of training camp, so it's likely he'll get some snaps against Carolina on Thursday at Heinz Field.

“I've felt since about March, when I decided I still wanted to play football, that something would happen. I hoped it would be here, and for a long time ... nothing happened, nothing happened,” Keisel said. “It was kind of weird like, ‘What am I going to do now?' ”

Keisel flew to Arizona on Tuesday to discuss a possible job with the Cardinals only to return to Pittsburgh when the Steelers called.

Now that Keisel is back, defensive end Cam Thomas can be shifted inside at times to take Steve McLendon's place at nose tackle. Rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt also has someone other than an assistant coach to work with him.

“To be back and to be able to hope to help lead some of these guys and help these guys turn into pros and accountable pros, I'm excited about it,” Keisel said.

Cam Heyward already has shifted to Keisel's longtime spot at left defensive end, so the Steelers must decide whether to keep him there or move him back to right end when Keisel plays.

“We'll hammer that out as we get him up to speed in terms of game readiness,” Tomlin said. “He's in great shape.”

Ken Laird of TribLive Radio contributed to this report. Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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