| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Keisel enjoys his work, no matter the situation

Steelers/NFL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

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."

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Steelers LB Timmons has grown into leadership role on defense
  2. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  3. Steelers notebook: Backup QB Gradkowski remains out with shoulder issue
  4. Steelers notebook: Rookie CB Golson still dealing with left shoulder pain
  5. Steelers tackle Beachum braces for competition along offensive line
  6. Steelers’ Brown arrives in style, vows to be ‘the best in the world’
  7. Butler, Steelers defense take on new challenges
  8. Rossi: St. Vincent a football sanctuary during Steelers training camp
  9. Steelers’ offense outshines defense like never before
  10. Starkey: Tomlin’s the right coach, obviously
  11. Steelers notebook: 5 players start training camp on injured list