Q&A: Brett Keisel

Brett Keisel entertained a mob of Pittsburgh media with a wide-ranging interview. Here's the Steelers' defensive captain.

Brett Keisel, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: Is that a new team shirt, with the "Steel Curtain" across it?

BK: It's old but Nike's running these out now. It's an honor to, you know, play on a defense that some consider the New Steeler Curtain. We're trying to be like those guys.

Q: Talk about your camp experience so far.

BK: My camp experience has been fabulous. We've had phenomenal weather here in, as the locals call it, Lay-trobe.

Q: You're not willing to concede this is your last season, are you?

BK: No. I'm not. The only thing I said is it's the last year on my contract. I'm excited about this year. We'll see what happens after.

Q: But, does it make you appreciate things even more?

BK: Yeah, I walk down the steps and smell the flowers a little bit more, listen to the birds chirp. (Pause) Not really. I'm just enjoying it. I'm enjoying being able to do this for 12 years, and enjoying helping out these young guys, enjoying being a leader, and enjoying still having the opportunity to play, and how lucky we have it to be able to go out and do this every day.

Q: Do you look at your backup, Cameron Heyward, and say, ‘Hey, there's a hungry and good player?'

BK: Very. Yeah, Cam's having a very good camp. I'm proud of him. You know, I told him coming into this camp he needed to work hard and be ready to go. They brought him in here to play and we need him to play this year. We need him to play great. Usually when that third year comes you see more consistency, and we're seeing that from Cam now.

Q: You had a couple days off last weekend. Why?

BK: Ah, my mustache strained a muscle, so I needed a little rest.

Q: Is that like Troy Polamalu's birth-certificate day?

BK: What's that?

Q: Tomlin said he had a contusion to the birth certificate.

BK: (Laughs)

Q: He was born in 1981.

BK: No, it wasn't that.

Q: Tomlin actually said, ‘He's from the seventies.' Tomlin was wrong about Troy, but he's right about you, isn't he? Aren't you from the seventies?

BK: Seventy-eight, baby.

Q: I asked John Mitchell about a 3-man rotation at D-end. He wouldn't commit to it, but you're going to need some breaks as the season goes along, aren't you?

BK: Yeah. When we've been at our best, I feel like we've had great players, not only starters, but guys able to come in and play. I'll go back to the early days when I was a backup, Travis (Kirschke) was a backup, (Chris) Hoke was a backup. We had a great rotation there. If guys needed a break, they could come in and know that those guys wouldn't fall off. That's what you need. The season's long. It's brutal up front. You've got to have guys who can come in and contribute, and contribute consistently. That's what we need from Cam, and some of these other guys. I tell these kids all the time: There's probably never been more of an opportunity right now on the defensive line than there is right now. So we're hoping to see some of these young guys step in and rise to the occasion.

Q: Who are some of the others?

BK: Al Woods, Loni Fangupo. Even Brian Arnfelt. Nick Williams has been nicked. There are opportunities there, and that's usually all you're going to get in this league.

Q: What have you learned in this camp?

BK: I do continue to learn. I'm focusing more on reading offenses, making sure I'm getting as much pre-snap as I can get. That's what I'm trying to show these young guys, too. That's what separates you. It's not just your physical ability, it's gaining as much information before the ball is snap. It can help that player be in position to help your teammate make a good play. Yeah, I'm just loving being able to still do this. It's a blessing.

Q: This defense was No. 1, but haven't you lost a bite in the big-play area?

BK: Yeah, we need that. We need to eliminate the big plays and we definitely need to get more turnovers. Hopefully those will come. We always say they come in bunches. I don't know where I heard that from, but we're hoping this is a bushel year for turnovers and big plays.

Q: Getting to the QB helps those turnovers, doesn't it?

BK: Absolutely. Absolutely. It all ties in together. We definitely need to get more pressure up front. There's been an emphasis on getting on the edge, rather than pushing the pocket, getting on the edge and trying to make something happen.

Q: Even for the ends?

BK: Even for the ends.

Q: Speaking of playmakers, how's Troy look to you?

BK: Troy looks great. Troy's worked his tail off this off-season. He looks great. We expect Troy to be Troy and go out there and do all the great things that Troy does that no one else in the league can do.

Q: He's really rocked up. He looks like he's ready for a comeback.

BK: Yeah, if I was a betting man I'd bet on 43 this year.

Q: Jarvis Jones bats down passes. Is that an art?

BK: I don't think it's an art. It's kind of a feel thing, an athlete thing. I don't know if Jarvis played basketball, but playing basketball I think has helped me knock down some balls. He's gotten three or four in camp. He's even picked, I think, a couple of them. He might beat my record, which isn't that hard to beat.

Q: Speaking of stats, how did you get 40 pressures last year when the next guy only had 19? Does the stat-keeper like you or something?

BK: (Laughs) I don't think so.

Q: Do you think you had 40?

BK: Yeah. I've always tried to bring pressure. We've kind of changed our techniques. In years past when we had James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, it was mostly just push the pocket, try and collapse the pocket, make the quarterback flush, and those guys will be there to clean him up. That's what we were taught.

Q: Would you like to rush more this year?

BK: I'm always rushing. I mean, I might be standing up sometimes but almost all the time I'm coming.

Q: Alright, Keis, time to be bold: Do the coaches have the correct left tackle in place?

BK: Well, both those guys need to have a finisher's mentality. You know? They both have all kinds of ability. They're both tough. They're both strong. They're both young, athletic guys. I just want to see them get nasty and have that finishing mentality where they finish every play. That's what's going to make them great players. They have all the ability, it's just ‘finish it.'

Q: That's all informative and interesting, but you didn't answer the question. Which one is the right guy to be playing left tackle? You're over there.

BK: Well, they were both left tackles in college. I don't know. I wish I knew. I haven't seen Mike Adams play enough out there. He's there right now, so, yeah, he's the right guy.


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