PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brett Keisel is in his 12th season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 35-year-old defensive end realizes it might also be his last.
If he's on his way out, at least he'll get a chance to do it on the field.
Keisel expects to play on Sunday when the Steelers (6-8) travel to Green Bay (7-6-1). He missed four of the previous five games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot but practiced on Friday without any issues and is listed as probable.
With two weeks left, Keisel could sway the Steelers to keep him another year by performing well. He also could be auditioning for a spot on another roster. But, most importantly, he has a chance to slip on his familiar No. 99 jersey after missing most of the last month. Keisel started at Baltimore Thanksgiving night before the injury flared up again, forcing him to leave the game after just eight snaps.
"I don't know, I think (the re-injury) could have happened, even if I would have waited," Keisel said. "So, I'm glad it happened and that I was still able to come back. It's possible that I couldn't play this week, but I've done enough standing around. I'm a worker bee. (And) it's just a matter of getting back to feeling normal again."
Keisel believed he had to push it in practice to get an idea if he could withstand the intensity of game conditions. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was encouraged by the results.
"He's been getting a little better every week," LeBeau said. "I think he's in a more positive frame of mind, just being around him. I really think that he feels he's got a real legitimate shot. We'll see. The fact that he has limited stiffness, which you would expect."
Keisel doesn't shy away from the fact he could be in the final days of his career.
"I also wanted to go down fighting with my teammates," Keisel said. "Whatever happens, I wanted to be out there with them and doing my job. (So), I feel good, like I could still play, but we'll see what happens. Our trainers have done a good job getting me ready, and I feel better. So, I think we'll be ready to go."