Sports

Federal Way NFL players will take the field tonight

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Former Federal Way High School teammates Brandon Keeler and Shaun Bodiford both got some playing time during the opening weekend of the NFL preseason, as did Thomas Jefferson grad Bryan Pittman.

Keeler's in the Arizona Cardinals training camp after being signed as a rookie free agent safety out of Eastern Washington University and Bodiford is in his second season with the Green Bay Packers as a wide receiver/kick returner. Pittman is entering his fifth season as the Houston Texans' long snapper.

The Cardinals play their second preseason game at noon today against Pittman's Texans and Bodiford and the Packers will take on the hometown Seattle Seahawks at 5 p.m. tonight. The game will be broadcast on King 5 television.

Keeler got his first taste of the National Football League last weekend, where he picked up one tackle during a 27-23 loss to the Oakland Raiders Saturday. It was the preseason opener for both teams.

Keeler's one tackle came with 59 seconds left in the game when he brought down Oakland running back Adimchinobe Echemandu after a 4-yard run around the left end.

Keeler, a 2002 Federal Way grad, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cardinals after April's NFL Draft following a stellar career as a defensive back at Eastern Washington University.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Keeler finished his 43-game career — including 34 as a starter — with 243 tackles to rank 10th in Eastern school history. He was a three-time, All-Big Sky Conference performer, earning first-team as a sophomore, second as a junior and honorable mention as a senior. He had five interceptions and five passes broken up.

Keeler is one of seven safeties in the Cardinals' training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. The Cardinals will break camp on Aug. 23.

It's probably a long shot for Keeler to make Arizona's final 53-man roster unless he has an unbelievable training camp.

While at Federal Way, Keeler was more known for his exploits on the track than on the football field. He won Class 4A state championships in the long jump (22-8) and 110 hurdles (14.49) as a senior. He also placed fifth in the 300 hurdles (38.63) and sixth in the triple jump (43-10 1/2). As a junior, he was part of the state championship 4x400 relay team.

Bodiford caught two passes for 26 yards, returned two punts for 13 yards and one kickoff for 18 yards during a 13-9 Green Bay victory over Pittsburgh Saturday. Both passes were caught in the second half.

Bodiford won a berth on the Detroit Lions' roster during training camp last year as an undrafted rookie out of Portland State University. But he was released by the team in October before being immediately snatched up by the Packers.

But his season was cut short when he suffered a broken right leg on the opening kickoff in a game against the Minnesota Vikings in November.

Bodiford had played six games with the Packers and had been handling punt and kickoff return duties. He was averaging 16.2 yards on five kickoff returns and 4.2 yards on six punts. He also had three tackles on special teams.

While at Federal Way High School, Bodiford lettered twice in football and track and was the Eagles' offensive player of the year as a senior in 2001. As a running back, he rushed for 970 yards and 12 touchdowns and earned second-team All-South Puget Sound League honors. He was also all-league as a cornerback with 65 tackles and five interceptions as a senior.

The 5-foot-11, 187-pound Bodiford then went on to star at Portland State after attending Butte (Calif.) Junior College his freshman and sophomore seasons.

The 6-3, 270-pound Pittman has become one of the most consistent long snappers in the NFL. He walked on at the University of Washington in 1997 under then-coach Jim Lambright after spending two seasons at Walla Walla Community College, where he started at tight end both years.

After playing semi-pro football for the Puget Sound Jets, Pittman was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Browns in 2003. The Browns released him during training camp that season and he was immediately signed by Houston.

During his tenure as the Texans' long snapper, Pittman has made all 544 snaps on special teams. He now owns Lady of America gym in the Twin Lakes area.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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