Brett Keisel not shutting door on return to Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers veteran defensive end Brett Keisel hinted on Monday that he will to try to return from the torn triceps that ended his 2014 season at the end of November.

Keisel said on ESPN's "SVP & Russillo Show" that he has started the rehabilitation process and that “I’m still under contract (with the Steelers) so who knows?”

Art Rooney II said last week that the Steelers have not made a decision about whether to bring back Keisel or veterans such as outside linebacker James Harrison, strong safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor.

Keisel signed a two-year, $3 million contract with the Steelers last August. Waiving the 13th-year veteran would only cost the Steelers $250,000 against the salary cap in 2015.

On the other hand Keisel showed in 2014 that he can still play. The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder finished fourth on the Steelers with 12 quarterback pressures despite missing the final four games. He also tipped or batted down six passes and recorded a sack and an interception.

Keisel, who turns 37 next September, would have to accept a reserve role if he returns to the Steelers with Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt set as the starting defensive ends.

But he played a situational role in 2014 and the Steelers won’t have any experienced depth at defensive end if they release Cam Thomas, who has one year left on his contract and did not show much in his first season with the Steelers.

Keisel, during rounds of ESPN interviews in Phoenix, endorsed new Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler so the departure of Dick LeBeau probably won’t factor into Keisel’s decision when it comes to his football future.

Not that Keisel will ever forget how much LeBeau shaped him in more ways than one.

“He means so much to me and I know he means so much to so many of my teammates that had the great pleasure of being around him on a daily basis,” Keisel said on the show. “He is a great football mind, a great football coach, one of the best all-time. But there’s so much more to Coach than that that it’s hard to explain how much he has meant to us and a lot of us why we’re the men we are off the field is because of his influence. He touched so many of our lives.”