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Brett Keisel's role along Steelers' defensive line still unclear

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't bring veteran Brett Keisel back to the team to stand on the sidelines. How much Keisel plays and in what packages is still considered 'to be determined'.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Keisel missed all of training camp and three preseason games before he was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers to a two-year contract. That's a lot of time missed, even for a 35-year-old veteran like Keisel.

The issue isn't whether Keisel can play anymore, that question was answered when the Steelers brought him back into the fold, but how the Steelers will employ him and how many snaps he will see per game.

Those are questions that even head coach Mike Tomlin couldn't answer during his press conference Tuesday.

"I still think we're just getting a sense of what Brett is capable of from a snap standpoint. That will have a lot to do with his utilization in the game along with the performance of others. He's going to be an asset to us. I look forward to watching him round into form."

It was before last week's final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers that Tomlin said he wanted to take Keisel to 'the deep end of the pool and see if he can swim', speaking in terms of Keisel's overall conditioning. All reports and film show Keisel can still be an impact player along the defensive line, but he's no longer an every-down player.

"[Keisel] might be the pliable guy," Tomlin said. "I think those are things we are still sorting out."

Keisel most likely won't start, but starting in the NFL is a useless term as teams change packages and personnel on a down-by-down basis.

Where Kiesel fits into the defense in terms of sub-package football is what truly will be interesting to watch.

Clearly, Mike Tomlin and his coaching staff will be watching intently, right along with the fans, to see what Keisel can bring to the defense this Sunday when the Cleveland Browns come to Heinz Field.