Heyward Thinks Thomas Will Be Steelers New Swingman, Doesn’t Rule Out Keisel Returning

What role will new Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cam Thomas play in 2014? Will veteran defensive end Brett Keisel be re-signed later this summer? It looks like defensive end Cameron Heyward knows the answers to those questions.

On Tuesday, Heyward had a session with the media and according to Scott Brown of ESPN, the fourth-year defensive end said he thinks Thomas will serve as a swing-man on the Steelers defensive line in 2014.

Thomas, who started his career with the San Diego Chargers, was signed as an unrestricted free agent during the offseason after the team lost unrestricted free agent defensive linemen Ziggy Hood and Al Woods.

After the team signed Thomas, I speculated that he would assume the role played last season by Woods, as his play with the Chargers at both nose tackle and defensive end wasn’t overly impressive or consistent.

If indeed Thomas winds up playing a swing role, that means the Steelers are still in need of a starting defensive end to play opposite Heyward. According to Brown, Heyward said on Tuesday that he hasn’t ruled out Keisel returning.

Re-signing Keisel is a move that would certainly make sense at this point and we’ve been speculating that such a transaction might eventually happen after June 1. By then, Keisel will have likely lowered his asking price and the Steelers will also have more available cap space at that time.

Even if the Steelers draft another defensive end in the early rounds next month, there is no way that player will be ready to start for some time. By re-signing Keisel, the Steelers will have a veteran that knows the system that can platoon with Thomas and continue to help mentor the younger defensive linemen on the roster.

As far as the Steelers other depth on their defensive line, Heyward told the media that second-year player Brian Arnfelt has made really good progress and could help this upcoming season at defensive end.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I don’t read into this too much but the FO may have more confidence in their DEs depth than we think AND doesn’t like the depth behind NT which moved them to sign Cam Thomas who might play both position. Cam Thomas look like more of a LDE than RDE so I do hope the signing pan out.

  • Biggie

    If we don’t bring in a stud DE or NT in the mix of guy like Nix, Tuitt, Hageman, D. Jones or K. Martin then I think we have to bring Keisel back for another year to at least be in the rotation at DE.

  • afrazier9

    I think we have to go cb, wr, de first three rounds i think in that order aswell

  • afrazier9

    dennard, benjamin, tuitt

  • dennisdoubleday

    Arnfelt is going to shock the world! He is my candidate for surprise player of the year for the Steelers.

  • Toddy Bravo

    I agree. DE Arnfelt and OG Embernate are both going to turn some heads this year.

  • 804Stiller

    I guess Nick Williams hasn’t done enough to be mentioned at this point with the injury and all……….

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Aaaaaaaarnfelt! That’s what I want to hear. I always laugh to myself when I hear people saying that there’s no way the guy will ever amount to anything if he was only able to get on the field for 2 snaps, or whatever. Hey, for those non-believers, go back in history and check out how many future stars did not play at all for 1 or even 2 years before going nuts. I’m telling you that Arnfelt guy is plenty strong enough and certainly game enough to be an impact in the future. I absolutely love hearing that. These are the types of surprises on the upside the Steelers need in order to get back to where they want to be quickly.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Yeah. Last year it seemed to me that those 2 have just a little tiny bit of Jack Lambert in their blood. And I want to see a lot more guys play that way.

  • dennisdoubleday

    Pittsburgh is Aaaaaarn City!

  • Aric Brown

    Arnfelts measurables are insane

  • ApexSteel

    I don’t know how much I want any of the players on our roster starting at DE. I’m hoping that Dominique Easterly falls to us in the third.

  • SteelersDepot

    Not that people are non believers. That’s quite the hyperbole on your part. He’s only played two snaps during a season with the rest of his snaps in preseason came mostly against furniture movers. To claim he’s the next Keisel at this point is over the top as there is no evidence outside of people acting like fanboys. I’m rooting for the kid. I love to see undrafted players really do well, but you need to understand where people are coming from. We need to see more of him before any proclamation is made.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I do agree with you and I am not a total idiot. I am just being optimistic and hoping (a far cry from certainty) that some of these type of guys like Arnfelt and UDFA’s can make something of themselves. Perhaps they could just become good role players, which would be pretty good and something that is necessary. I have no problem with them rotating guys in to keep them fresh as many teams use that strategy to get by and sometimes excel.

    And I know his competition in preseason was sub-standard, but I saw a couple of plays that got me pretty excited. And you know why? It was because you could tell he really wanted it. I’ve played sports and sometimes attempted the impossible, the type of play that no one expects you to make. I saw Arnfelt try some stuff like that. And that’s the type of guy I want on the Steelers.

    There you have it: That’s why I expect good things from him and why I’m really routing for him.

  • SteelersDepot

    He did play well. I don’t think you will find anybody that will dispute that. Nothing wrong with being optimistic, but as I stated above, we REALLY need to see more of him and hopefully as a second-team guy this year during the preseason. It’s not that people are non believers, however.

  • Smokin_Smiley

    saw Arnfelt a couple weeks ago….. that guys a beast been really workin it this off season…good luck bro

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    A trade down with the 49ers likely gives us 1.30 + 2.24. We could potentially draft Tuitt at 1.30, then use our two 2nd rounders on a WR and CB.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Between 1-29 and 2-24 you could get quite a draft day haul of quality potential even before the 3rd round. That’s why I have been talking about trading with the 49ers for months now.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    If we let them keep their 1st rounder we could get 2 2nd and 2 3rd rounders.

  • Patrick Reid

    Really high on both theses guys! Especially EmberNasty!

  • patrick Mayfield

    more details please!

  • StarSpangledSteeler


    That is actually an extremely interesting idea. The 49ers need to win now. I could see them justifying 2 “starters” over 6 “developmental” players.

    49ers only have about 3 legitimate roster spots open right now (WR, CB, DL). The rest are filled with starters or up and comers. There is no way they’re keeping all those picks.

    Steelers have large voids at (WR, CB, CB, DE, ILB) and depth issues at (OLB, TE, OT, S, DL). We could literally draft 10 guys and keep all 10 on our roster.

    And just once I would like to see the Steelers trade a 2nd rounder this year for another team’s 1st rounder next year. Straight up.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I think it works really well for both sides.

    It would be hard to pass on the top 45 players but having 6 of the next 50 would allow us to address all of our needs.

    I think the niners will do something like this and the only question is if the want to go higher than 15.

  • Biophys

    Sure, we should take all three of them. We just need to figure out how to get two more 1st round picks to do so.

  • afrazier9

    I think one if not both Benjamin or tuitt will drop to the second

  • Justin Barlow

    You can definitely make a case right now that the biggest hole on the team is DE. We’ll say Keisel is good for half a year’s snaps, Thomas can pick up the other half.. Arnfelt is the backup??? Nick WIlliams??? Maybe theyve shown something in practice we don’t know about. My money is on the FO to bring in a veteran on top of Keis post June 1. We need guys that can play now.

  • MC

    I think ya gotta bring him back for one more year.

  • Jim Foles

    a good place to look for PS players later in the summer.

  • Jim Foles

    Arnfelt was a beast last year. He just needs to play more.

  • Jim Foles

    he plays better than our thaddeus gibson or the Samoan NT our 4th round picks

  • Jim Foles

    arnfelt is meaner

  • Jim Foles

    True, but if you take out Miller at TE or Timmons at ILB with injury.. We have zero at that position… So really CB, TE, ILB should be a top priority. DE, WR after three … we went 0-4 without miller last year.

  • Jim Foles

    Keisel is already tuning up his tractor for camp.

  • Matty

    I agree, i have a great feeling about this Arnfelt kid since the first pre season game i saw him play