Brett Keisel‘s return to the football field Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens following a two game absence due to a left foot problem lasted all of seven plays as the 35-year-old bearded one limped to the sidelines for good with 2:49 left in the first quarter. Now, we are all left to wonder if the Steelers veteran defensive end has played his final game in a Pittsburgh uniform.
Following the Week 10 win over the Buffalo Bills, Keisel missed the next two games and it was reported that he was suffering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He did, however, practice fully last week leading up to the game, but it was clear when he exited Thursday night that he could be down a few more weeks.
For what it is worth, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Saturday night on Twitter that he is hearing that Keisel will miss some time because of his foot, but he didn’t specify or speculate just how much time.
The Steelers now have four games remaining in the regular season and they pretty much have to win all four and get some help if they are to make the playoffs. As it looks right now, the season finale at Heinz Field against the Cleveland Browns might be Keisel’s last opportunity to suit up for the Steelers unless they somehow make the playoffs.
Keisel is in the final year of his contract and there are no guarantees that he will be brought back next season even though the Steelers figure to have several holes that will need to be filled on their defensive line. If Keisel is brought back for one more season, it will be on a one-year qualified contract for the veteran minimum with no guarantees that he will start or even make the final 53 man roster out of training camp.
Keisel, who was originally drafted by the Steelers in the 7th round (242nd overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft out of BYU, has only played in all 16 games in a season four times over the course of his 11 years in the league. 2012 was one of those years, but he left the season finale against the Browns with a knee injury after playing just 28 snaps.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin won’t update the status of the injured players until his Tuesday press conference, so we will have to wait until then to get an official update on Keisel. Hopefully we can make it back for the Browns game if not sooner.