- Associated Press - Friday, August 29, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Brett Keisel looks ready for the deep end of the pool.

It might take some convincing for the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman’s teammates to join him. Ten days before the regular season begins, plenty of work remains before the Steelers resemble anything close to a finished product.

The first-string defense allowed a field goal during a brief cameo and the offense mustered little in a 10-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the preseason finale on Thursday night.

Still, Keisel remains bullish. He returned to Pittsburgh for a 13th season rather than sign with rising Arizona because of the influx of raw speed during the offseason.

“There’s a lot of potential, there is,” Keisel said. “They did a good job drafting some good young talent. They’ve got to prove they can come in and be consistent. If you’re a consistent ballplayer week in and week out, we can rely on you and trust you.”

That trust needs to be built quickly after the Steelers (1-3) ended August with a pair of duds. Pittsburgh was outplayed by Philadelphia a week ago and the backups fighting for roster spots didn’t exactly build a compelling case in front of a stadium that will have a decidedly different feel when the Cleveland Browns visit on Sept. 7.

Steelers third-string quarterback Landry Jones started, but did little to assure himself of a roster spot when the rosters are trimmed to 53 players. The former Oklahoma star completed 14 of 18 passes for 97 yards, but couldn’t even get the offense in field-goal range.

Jones declined to speculate on whether he did enough to convince the Steelers they need a third quarterback on the roster behind Ben Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski.

“I have no idea,” he said. “This business, being cut, staying here, that’s so far out of my control I don’t even like thinking about it.”

Linebacker Jarvis Jones provided the lone highlight for the Steelers, but it came at the expense of a few strands of his flowing dreadlocks. Jones recovered a fumble after a bad Carolina snap and sprinted downfield before being tackled from behind by Carolina center Fernando Velasco, who grabbed a chunk of Jones’ hair and held on.

“He did apologize to me,” Jones said. “It kind of hurt, though, unexpectedly.”

The recovery came after the Panthers kicked a field goal during their opening drive, meaning Pittsburgh’s starting defense - minus safety Troy Polamalu, cornerback Cortez Allen and linebacker Jason Worlids - gave up a score in each of its four preseason appearances.

“We definitely did some decent things, just a few missed tackles we could have made,” rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier said. “I’m not worried at all. We’re not worried.”

Fozzy Whittaker ran for 91 yards and a 2-yard touchdown for the Panthers (2-2).

Both teams sat their star players with just 10 days to go before the regular season begins. The game was even plain by preseason standards, considering Pittsburgh travels to Charlotte to face the Panthers on Sept. 24.

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