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Old 08-14-2006, 09:07 AM   #7
83-Steelers-43
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Default Re: Keisel...Moving on Up.

Beginning for an end

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, August 14, 2006


Brett Keisel was employed regularly as one of the Steelers' situational substitutions along the defensive line a year ago, but the situations Keisel confronted rarely involved stuffing the run.

It's been that way all along for the fifth-year pro who first came onto the scene as a special-teams freak.

"I bet it's less than 50 snaps," Keisel said, assessing how much run defense he's been asked to play while serving as the backup to Kimo von Oelhoffen at right defensive end. "I bet it's a lot less."

Now that he's been promoted to fill the starting spot vacated by von Oelhoffen's free-agent departure to the New York Jets, Keisel might be tested against the run 50 times in two weeks.

"That's why I'm so excited to go out and show what I can do on a consistent basis," Keisel said. "To be out there full time with this defense, which is so good, is going to be a pleasure for me."

Keisel's excitement was evident early in the preseason opener on Saturday at Arizona.

He shot a gap and stuffed running back Edgerrin James for a loss of 2 yards on the Cardinals' first offensive snap and tracked down scrambling quarterback Kurt Warner after a gain of 5 on Arizona's second play.

Keisel got his hands on Warner one other time, applying a shove just after a pass had been released, before taking the rest of the afternoon off following the completion of Arizona's first series.

Keisel made a name for himself as a 6-foot-5, 280-pound, seventh-round draft choice in 2002 who was athletic enough to cover kickoffs.

Since then, he's become an accomplished pass rusher, as Jake Plummer discovered when Keisel dropped the Denver quarterback twice in the AFC Championship Game.

It shouldn't take long for Keisel's proficiency at run defense to be revealed.

"I'm sure they're going to see if the right side can hold the fort down," Keisel said. "I'm sure we'll get tested. I welcome the challenge."

Keisel will meet it by applying what he does best, as opposed to relying on the methods von Oelhoffen often employed.

"I'm trying to get in the backfield whichever way I can," Keisel said. "Kimo was more of a guy who was big and strong enough to push a guy into the backfield. I'm trying to get around the guy to get into the backfield.

"I'm trying to use my wheels."

That said, Keisel has added 10 pounds this season and will play at 290.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau suspects his new starter will have enough bulk and an abundance of speed with which to get the job done.

"As the season wore on last year, 'Keise' became very instrumental in our defense," LeBeau said. "In those playoffs, every time you looked up he was getting a sack. He's going to add that to our defense. Playing every down, he's going to get that many more opportunities.

"He can really run. He's probably the fastest defensive lineman in the league, and that's going to be a plus. A defense can never be too fast. We have a fast defense; he's going to make us faster.

"I'm very confident he'll do a very good job for us."
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