Feeling the heat? Not Brett Keisel

On the first snap from scrimmage at the first practice of training camp, Brett Keisel will be lined up at first-team right defensive end. He's trained five years for the opportunity, and doesn't plan to let anyone -- including himself -- down.

BRETT KEISEL, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: Do you feel pressure to live up to the standards of the past?

A: There's pressure. There's definitely pressure because this place is known for great d-linemen. That's why we've been as successful as we have. Everything in our defense starts up front. If the front doesn't do their job the whole defense falls apart. Yeah, there's pressure, but I love pressure. This is what I've fought my whole career for, to be in this situation, so I'm really excited to be where I'm at.

Q: What will be different about this?

A: Well, I doubt I'll be playing as much on special teams. I'll be able to concentrate more on what I need to do as far as just a defensive lineman. Really, that's going to be it. I'm going to have to get used to being out there full-time and seeing things not from the sideline but from on the field. It'll be an adjustment, but I'm excited. I'm ready

Q: Will you have to play the run more? What was your niche when you rotated in?

A: It was the same. I really don't think I'll have to play the run more than I did last year as a reserve because I was in there a lot for running plays, too. I wasn't just out there when we thought they were going to pass, or anything like that. It was when someone got fatigued and I rotated in. I feel great. I'm ready.

Q: How much weight have you put on and how much will you put on?

A: I've put about five on and I want to go into training camp with about five more pounds, a little over 290, but I don't want to lose my speed. If I start to feel like it's really slowing me down then I'll probably back off a little bit, but I'm putting a little on.

Q: You've always said it was tough getting on the field because Aaron Smith is such an iron man. Will you wave the backup off the way he did to you?

A: Absolutely. I'm going to try and stay out there as much as possible. I feel like I put my time in, so that'll be my reward, to stay out on the field as much as I can. But we have great depth still at D-line: Travis is amazing; Hokie's amazing; Rodney coming in – he's been in this league and knows how to play here; and I'm impressed with our rookies, too. They're picking up on things really well and so we'll see what happens.

Q: From a defensive lineman's perspective, what did Kimo von Oelhoffen do particularly well at that position?

A: Kimo was as smart a football player as I've seen. He could read guys. He could read the offensive lineman and tell what he's doing. He could pick up on the difference between run and pass in the different formations they were in -- just really smart. There are keys that you can get before the snap that make you that much better of a player and Kimo was a master at that, and then he was physical. You can watch film and you can see Kimo throwing people around like they're ragdolls and they're 340-pound men. And he's a master of leverage. He was incredible in how he controlled his body and made his body be a big tool for him.

Q: How similar or dissimilar are you from him in playing style?

A: I don't think I'm very similar to Kimo really at all. I think I'm a physical player. I'm probably not as smart as he is right now at picking up the keys and things like that that he did. He's got a few more years on me so hopefully I can do a better job with that. I think we're two different players, but I think we're both really good athletes so this is a great defense for us.

Q: Did he pass along any wisdom or did he take all his tricks to New York with him?

A: No, Kimo has made me – Kimo is the reason I am here. Not just that he left but he has helped us -- the whole d-line for that matter -- so much with our stance because this is a different defense. You have to switch up your stance. Most of us came from a 4-3 so stance here is everything. Using your hips, using your hands, and where you need to place your hands on the blocker, he's just a master of those things. A lot of guys might know they're good and not want to help younger guys who are trying to take his job, but Kimo was never like that. He always helped all of us out. I owe a lot to him.

Q: So you teach young guys next, right?

A: Right. There's just a great camaraderie here. I don't think this is like a lot of teams, where guys aren't helping people and they're giving wrong answers to a guy so he screws it up and makes a mistake. It's not like that here. These guys genuinely care about each other. That's why we're good.

Q: Will you – the defense – be good this year?

A: We will be very good this year. My prediction is we will be very good.

Q: Any pressure replacing Kimo in the locker room?

A: That's just going to come with time, as far as Kimo being the leader that he was. I don't think that's my position right now. I feel like I'm a young guy coming in. I'm going to pretty much keep my mouth shut -- unless it's at the other team -- and follow the leaders we have out there, like Aaron, Joey, Potsy, Clark, pretty much the whole team. I've got to prove myself first.


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