Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel has been sidelined for the last few weeks with a foot sprain, but is slated to potentially return according to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Many feared that Keisel could be shelved for the season depending on the severity of the injury. And with the potential of Keisel’s season being done, others feared that we witnessed The Beard for the last time in a Steelers uniform.
Keisel is getting a little long in the tooth, and has been observed of losing a step since last season even though ESPN’s Scott Brown feels otherwise. Age has been a recent factor for the Steelers and their decisions to keep or release a player. As noted by Brown on Tuesday, capable veterans and fan favorites are not safe from the salary cap axe, such as Hines Ward, James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Casey Hampton. Based on how the Steelers front line fared the last few weeks without him, I think it’s safe to assume that Keisel will not only return to the line up this season if deemed healthy, but he will also be back for at least one more season.
As Dom pointed out in his injury report earlier on Tuesday, Cameron Heyward has certainly stepped up and has outperformed most of our expectations. This past Sunday, he simply went into Beast Mode and had the best game of his career. His efforts aren’t enough because guys like Al Woods and Steve McLendon have underperformed and have not allowed the linebackers to penetrate the pocket and struggle to help stop the run.
The Steelers have a need at just about every position coming up in this off-season’s draft. And, to expect the Steelers to nab a top quality rookie that can contribute right away is unrealistic. You can expect the Steelers to draft similarly to how they did the past two drafts by going after offensive linemen, cornerbacks, linebackers, and other players that are the highest value at the time of selection. I don’t foresee a DL getting nabbed in all of that – at least one that can start – so the Steelers will need to ensure that Keisel will hang around for one more season (even two) until they can get capable people to fill his position. I certainly agree with Scott Brown that Keisel will more than likely take a cheap deal to ‘finish’ his career in the ‘Burgh
So, the Steelers aren’t really in a dilemma over Brett Keisel and whether he will be gone after this season. The dilemma lies in the fact that they have too many needs on the defensive side of the ball and not enough draft picks to fill them.