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Old 12-24-2005, 02:53 AM   #1
BlitzburghRockCity
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Thumbs up Congrats to Kimo.. 100th game

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/trib.../s_406731.html

Sometimes, it's not easy finding Kimo.
But even if Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen doesn't always stand out on television during the course of a game, he is doing things to help his team win.

Lots of things, according to his teammates.

"He's very underrated around the league, but everyone in this locker room knows what kind of player he is," said linebacker Clark Haggans. "He's up there with the top defensive ends, for sure."

Von Oelhoffen, who turns 35 on Jan. 30, is easily the Steelers' oldest defensive starter and will play his 100th game with the team today in Cleveland. That includes six playoff games.

Von Oelhoffen has played 82 games in a row and has missed only one -- Sept. 30, 2001, at Buffalo because of an ankle injury -- since the Steelers signed him as an unrestricted free agent before the 2000 season.

This season, von Oelhoffen maintains, is his best yet. It's also a contract year, as he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

The secret to his success?

"I work harder than anybody else; bottom line," he said. "I take care of my body."

He also plays with the wisdom gained from 12 NFL seasons.

"It has almost become second nature playing blocks," von Oelhoffen said. "I don't have to think too hard. I can play every scheme block there is. This is the most I've ever felt that nobody can block me."

Actually, von Oelhoffen often willingly sacrifices himself to blockers so that the linebackers can make plays.

"He makes a lot of plays people don't talk about by just being in the right gap, causing something that helps someone else make something happen," Haggans said.

Von Oelhoffen gets his licks in, too. He already has surpassed his solo- and total-tackle totals from last season, with 25 and 34, respectively, and he leads the Steelers' defensive linemen in sacks with three.

"I think some people thought he lost a beat," said fellow defensive end Aaron Smith. "I don't think he has."

In Sunday's 18-3 victory at Minnesota, von Oelhoffen blocked a field goal and forced a fumble. He also made a rare mistake, lining up offside in the neutral zone and thus wiping out a Haggans sack and fumble recovery.

Earlier this season, Steelers coach Bill Cowher said von Oelhoffen was playing "at a Pro Bowl level." This was after Cowher saw von Oelhoffen shrug off a painful left shoulder injury to record a sack and tip a pass that was intercepted by Smith in a victory at Cincinnati.

In that game, Smith and linebacker Joey Porter had to stretch von Oelhoffen's left arm and lift it above his shoulder before each series so that he could continue playing.

He did not miss a series.

"If his heart's beating, he's going to play football," Haggans said.

Von Oelhoffen figures his warrior mentality rubs off on people. He's a natural leader.

"I don't say much," he said. "They know it. I'm the last one in the locker room, the last one in the weight room. I practice every day. I'm almost 35 years old, and I don't miss practice. That in itself gives them a good feeling."

Porter, like Haggans, believes von Oelhoffen does as much for this defense as the more glorified defensive ends in the game do for theirs. Von Oelhoffen isn't a pass-rush demon. He's just a winner.

And a team player.

"He's one of the top defensive ends in the game," Porter said. "He doesn't get the credit for it, because he doesn't have the name of the Jason Taylors and the (Dwight) Freeneys and all those guys. But he does everything we ask him to do. If you want him to hold up two people, he'll do it.

"A guy like that, you have to have on a winning team."
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