By Dale Grdnic
And it's probably been about that long since Keisel played extensively against the Panthers, who visit Pittsburgh Thursday night at 7:30 at Heinz Field. But Keisel could play extensively, since this is his first action since officially rejoining the Steelers last Wednesday.
"Coach T (Mike Tomlin) was joking that I haven't played in a Carolina game since the early 2000s, so it'll be great to get back out there,'' Keisel said Monday. "I'm glad he's going to play me, and I'm really looking forward to it.''
Keisel probably was a special-teams ace back in those early days against the Panthers, but his only role this week will be to improve a defense that was badly torched by the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
"We can improve everywhere,'' Keisel said. "There's a lot of work to be done, technique things to be worked out and mental assignments that need to be corrected. So, we're looking to respond and play better than we did last week and move forward.''
Against the Eagles' first-team offense during the first half, the Steelers allowed 24 points and a handful of big plays. Strong safety Troy Polamalu was distressed by the team's play, and that emotion erupted on the field.
"I don't know if it was any different,'' Polamalu said. "I always try to play the game with emotion. (The performance) wasn't good enough, obviously. ... Hopefully, that's not a telling story of how we'll be this year. Hopefully, we'll be able to learn from these mistakes and get better.''
Other than Keisel, Polamalu and the Steelers' first-team defense might not get much of an opportunity to make up for last week's performance since the club generally doesn't play its starters much during the final preseason game.
"The only thing I can do is take responsibility for my actions and my actions alone, so that's what I'm doing this week,'' nose tackle Steve McLendon said. "I'm preparing to play, and I think everybody should do that. But I really don't know how much action we'll get.''
Outside linebacker Jason Worilds believed that putting the last game in the past was necessary, but not before the Steelers use it as a learning experience.
"We're definitely going to take the good and improve on it and take the bad and make it a strength,'' Worilds said. "It's just a matter of everybody being consistent. I think we have the ability to make the plays that everybody can't make, but we didn't make the plays that everyone can make.''
Free safety Mike Mitchell agreed that they have to learn from the bad loss.
"It definitely leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, because you never want to perform like that,'' Mitchell said. "(But) you know the old saying: You don't learn very much when you win, but you learn a lot when you lose. So, we learned a lot of things about ourselves that we need to get corrected.''
And with the final preseason game quickly approaching, time is running out.
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