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Making An Impact On Special Teams Early In Career Helped Brett Keisel Stick On Roster Under John Mitchell

As a seventh-round choose within the 2002 NFL Draft, Brett Keisel took an extended, curious route right into a beginning function for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After working behind the likes of Aaron Smith and Kimo von Oelhoffen from 2002-05 alongside the Steelers’ stout defensive position, Keisel works his approach right into a beginning function in 2006 and by no means seemed again, enjoying a key function for the black and gold by the 2014 season, beginning 114 profession video games for Pittsburgh.

Quite the discover for then-GM Kevin Colbert within the closing spherical of the 2002 draft.

Comfortably retired for almost a decade now, Keisel — appearing on the Not Just Football with Cam Heyward podcast earlier in the week — careworn the significance of constructing an influence on particular groups early in his profession, which led to him sticking round a very long time with the Steelers.

As a seventh-round choose, Keisel had an extended street forward of him to not solely work his approach into the rotation on a stacked defensive position, however to even seize a spot on the 53-man roster general. Throwing himself into particular groups work, serving because the wedge buster, and really catching the attention of then-special groups coordinator Kevin Spencer went a great distance for Keisel.

“There was only one way [to make the team], according to Mitch [Steelers’ then-defensive line coach John Mitchell]. You don’t have a job on the d-line. So it was like, ‘man, I gotta run down the field on kickoff and special teams,’ and that was the only place I saw myself getting a job,” Keisel mentioned to Heyward, according to audio via the Not Just Football with Cam Heyward podcast. “So, I focused on that really when I was a young player. I focused on all my special teams. Obviously, I wanted to get better on defense, but I really felt like I could go out and be dominant on special teams and stand out on special teams.”

For three seasons (Keisel missed the ’03 season attributable to a shoulder harm) that’s precisely what the seventh-round choose did, changing into a useful member of the Steelers on particular groups beneath Spencer, operating down kicks and punts for the black and gold.

That effort and general dedication and dedication went a great distance within the eyes of head coach Bill Cowher, resulting in Keisel getting the prospect as a starter for the 2006 season after the departure of von Oelhoffen to the New York Jets following the win in Super Bowl XL over the Seattle Seahawks.

His time on particular groups early in his profession nonetheless serves as a reminder, even immediately, for younger gamers on the Steelers attempting to seize maintain of a job and stick within the NFL. Though the league is a bit completely different and the sport has modified, particular groups nonetheless stays a key a part of every group and every gameplan.

“Back in the day, that’s where you got your start on special teams. [Bill] Cowher kind of had you had to work your way into a starting role,” Keisel mentioned to Heyward, according to audio via the Not Just Football with Cam Heyward podcast. “Even when you have been first-round choose or no matter, high 5 rounds or no matter, you needed to begin on particular groups. Troy [Polamalu] began on particular groups…We had an amazing particular groups unit, which is so vital within the sport. If your particular groups is missing, you’ll be able to simply lose the sport.

“So it’s important to be stout and strong in all three phases…I think that’s why you see, especially now, when people get into playoffs situations and stuff, you see a lot of starters playing in some of those special teams roles, because the margin for error is so small and winning and losing in the NFL that you need some dogs out there that are willing to go crazy.”

That’s precisely what each profitable group wants, and that’s what Keisel was on particular groups for 3 seasons for the Steelers. Nowadays, these roles are held down by the likes of Marcus Allen, Derek Watt, Justin Layne and extra, making for a powerful particular groups unit general beneath present particular groups coordinator Danny Smith within the Steel City.

Though the sport has modified and rookies, particularly increased draft picks, aren’t being requested to play as a lot on particular groups immediately, that also stays the case in Pittsburgh beneath Mike Tomlin. In the top, sticking round on the roster as a depth participant comes right down to particular groups skills, which makes the Steelers deeper general.

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