Brett Keisel sat on a bench, watching his teammates stream past him to the practice field. He has done this for 12 springs now, but it struck him differently this time.

"I said, 'Wow, we have a lot of fresh faces,' " Keisel said.

The Steelers' old guard has shrunk. Super Bowl rings no longer are plentiful around their South Side facility. Only seven players remain who have them from Super Bowl XL, just 12 from XLIII.

Those dozen call themselves the '08ers. Keisel believes it's past time for those fresh faces to start their own tradition by renewing a Steelers custom from the previous decade.

"There was a trend there for a while; every few years we went back," Keisel said. "Hopefully this is the year we go back."

The Steelers won the Super Bowl in the seasons of 2005 and 2008 and returned in 2010, only to lose to Green Bay.

Other players with Steelers Super Bowl rings are Ryan Clark, Larry Foote, William Gay, Heath Miller, Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Spaeth, Ike Taylor, Lawrence Timmons, Greg Warren and LaMarr Woodley.

Among those gone is the guy who had Keisel's back for many years, James Harrison. They were rookies together in 2002. Keisel became the starting right defensive end in 2006 and Harrison became the starting right outside linebacker in 2007.

"James and I were very close, we have been together from the get-go, played special teams together, ended up starting together and had a really good thing going for a while," Keisel said. "But we've moved on. He's a Bengal now. We have Jason Worilds out there now. We're trying to get that same feel for each other. We got a little last year playing together but it's going to take time.

"I believe in Jason and I think he's going to be a good outside linebacker."

Keisel, the oldest player on defense at 34, has played some of his best football in his latter years. He was a late bloomer, a late seventh-round draft pick who became a great special teams player before moving into the lineup.