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Thomas Keiser Amped Up to Bring Pressure

Posted Aug 11, 2014

Outside linebacker knows he needs to keep making big plays.

It was a familiar sight that many Chargers fans saw throughout 2013.

Thomas Keiser burst around the edge, showed off his speed and closed on the quarterback in a flash.  The result was a pivotal sack-fumble that helped turn the tide in a 27-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Making sure he not only got the sack but forced a turnover was important to Keiser, who in his fourth year still feels the pressure to bring the pressure.

“I’m always highly motivated, just based on the way my career has gone being an undrafted free agent,” he said.  “I think that drive is natural.  I will always have a lot to prove, and I continue to have that chip on my shoulder and motivation.  I’m trying to play a ton and make tons of plays to prove I belong here. That was important to create that turnover because it doesn’t get better than that.   I showed I can make plays last year, and I have to show that I will make plays this year.  I have that hunger. A sack-fumble is what you dream of as a pass-rusher, so I was amped.”

Keiser began 2013 on the Chargers’ practice squad before being elevated following Week 4.  He appeared in 12 games with three starts and finished second on the team with 4.5 sacks.  The outside linebacker recorded 20 tackles and 5.0 tackles for loss, as well as the game-sealing interception in Week 15’s victory over the Denver Broncos. 

“Last season started out disappointing for me not being active, but when I finally got my opportunity in Week 5 I showed that I can be a force for this defense,” he said.  “I am someone who can rush the quarterback and make him have a really bad day.  I think I fit well here in Pags’ (Defensive Coordinator John Pagano) system because I can rush the passer.  I know that sounds generic because that is what all 32 teams in the NFL look for, but as a 3-4 outside linebacker with multiple looks and multiple fronts, I can be used in a lot of different ways.”

While Keiser is best known for his pass rush ability, he doesn’t want to be known simply for pressuring the quarterback.  He’s working hard to prove he’s deft in all phases of the game.

“Camp is going well, and I’m basically going out there every day trying to improve as a player to make the plays I want to make,” he said.  “I can wreak havoc on the quarterback, but I’m well rounded enough to be reliable in the drops like I showed last year.  So when you have both of those dynamics it’s good because you can keep the offense guessing.  So I feel well rounded and it’s a matter of making small improvements overall.  I’m never going to be satisfied until I’m at the top of the league.”

Keiser believes he’s made strong improvements simply being around a talented linebacker corps with strong coaches in Pagano, Linebackers Coach Joe Barry and Assistant Linebackers Coach Bobby King.

“It’s a pretty dynamic group of guys to be with because we’re learning with the outside and inside guys,” he explained.  “We have a ton of guys in that room and great players in general, so we lift each other up and hold each other to a high standard.  So everyone makes everyone better.”
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