When Chris Kelsay entered this season he knew what he was getting into. He was coming into the final year of his contract, which means there's pressure to perform. His friend, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Grant Wistrom, gave him some advice: Don't let stats dictate how you play.
So as the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Kelsay prepares for the Buffalo Bills season finale at Baltimore, he remains as unflappable as always. He appears relaxed and confident that everything will fall into place and adamant that he's not concerned about his future.
"I've got [one game] for sure and we'll see what happens after that," said Kelsay, a four-year veteran. "I think if you get to thinking about your contract or whether or not you're going to be here next year it can be a negative for you. It's not going to help you any."
The problem is that it's human nature to look ahead, to worry.
"I'd be lying to you if I said, 'I haven't thought about it,' " Kelsay said. "More than anything, you have to keep reminding yourself that everything will take care of itself. The only thing you have control over is your effort and preparing every week for the game on Sunday, turning it loose and letting it go."
But Kelsay has performed to the point that this is arguably his best season as a pro, his work stacking up favorably with some of his peers throughout the league. This hasn't been an awkward, lame-duck year for Kelsay. In a sense his fate in his hands.
Kelsay, the starting left end, is the team's sixth-leading tackler and is third on the team in sacks behind right end Aaron Schobel and reserve left end Ryan Denney. He could be more stout against the run.
Kelsay's pass rush has been good, but it helps having a Pro Bowler, Schobel at the other end because it gives him a chance to work one-on-one. Overall, Kelsay's play has been consistent.
He has proven that he can play defensive tackle, doing so extensively last year because of injuries to Sam Adams. When the league's salary cap goes up, suitors will come calling.
"I try not to think about it but it's the stuff that's in the back of your mind," Kelsay said. "You want to be here, you want to be with the teammates and people you've grown to know and like. At the same time you know there's 31 other teams, some don't need defensive ends but some might be in the market. The uncertainty of it is exciting."
Of course, Kelsay's preference is to keep his current job, and he's a good bet to re-sign. But like everyone else, he'll just wait to see how it all turns out.
"I love Buffalo, it's home," Kelsay said. "My wife and daughter and I have a house here and we're pretty much here all year. We're both from Nebraska originally and we go back there for a couple of weeks at a time during the offseason, but this is our home. . . . It would be nice to be a Buffalo Bill."
Sunday's game against the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium has been switched to a 4:15 p.m. kickoff from its originally scheduled 1 p.m. starting time due to the Sunday Night Flex Schedule.