Keisel: 'I would like to get some game snaps'

It's not often that a player is in uniform for a game before taking a single snap in practice that week, but Brett Keisel put on the black and gold against the Eagles on Thursday night not just without taking a snap all week, but since December, when last season ended for the Steelers.

While Keisel didn't play at all, he did get a unique perspective watching the game at Lincoln Financial Field.

"I wanted to see who was going to say things and who was going to talk and who was going to stand up," said Keisel. "It was good and I wanted to see what some of the young guys were capable of and how they responded after a drive or anything like that.

"We've got work to do; I said that the other night. We have work to do."

Keisel is first to admit that he personally has work to do as well, having not practiced for over seven months, and is hoping to get back in the swing of things this week as the team prepares for their final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.

"I feel like I need to get the pads on and get out there and get going," said Keisel. "I want to get some practices in me. Just getting out there and playing, the stop and go, the change of direction, stuff like that. There are certain things you can train in, but really until you play the game you're not going to be in the type of shape that you need to be in to be a good, consistent player. So I have a week or so to get there and I look forward to doing that.

"I would like to get some game snaps and see what happens. Everything is up to Coach (Mike) Tomlin. We'll see what he wants to do and see how I do in practice this week and go from there."

What else is up to Tomlin is what Keisel's role will be. Keisel, like any player, wants to be a starter but first and foremost he wants to help the team win.

"The main thing I wanted to do coming in to this was just help," said Keisel. "Being someone who has played a lot of football and loves being out there from the very start, yes that is where you want to be. As a competitor, as someone who loves competing with this team, you want to be out there playing and fighting with your guys."

Keisel, who was an unrestricted free agent after the 2013 season, spent the offseason unsigned. It wasn't until two days before the Eagles game that a long journey landed Keisel with the Steelers.

"It's been amazing," said Keisel. "The team has welcomed me with open arms, the players, the Rooneys, the coaching staff, and front office. We are a big happy family and it really means a lot to me how much everyone has shown they are happy I am back."

Among those the happiest, though, are probably his wife Sarah and three children. Keisel hopped on a plane last week heading to Arizona, where it looked like he would be signed by the Cardinals and moved right into a starting role. But it just didn't feel right to him.

"This is the place where I have set roots and want to raise my family," said Keisel of Pittsburgh. "That feeling I had when I had my bags packed and was saying goodbye to my wife and kids and didn't know when I would see them again. It just didn't feel right. I just thank God everything worked out.

"It was very tough. I lost a lot of hair this offseason, not on my beard luckily, but on top. It was just the unknown. You start to figure out what you are going to do with the next phase of your life. The good thing is it forced me to look into that and when that day comes I am going to be better prepared for it because of what I have been through with this."

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