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Ex-teammates Luck, DeCastro to reunite

| Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, 11:59 p.m.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the St. Louis Rams in the first half of an NFL preseason game in Indianapolis on Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012. (AP)
Steelers first round pick David DeCastro during the first day of camp at St. Vincent College July 26, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

David DeCastro needed only three weeks of NFL training camp to understand what made Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, whom he protected at Stanford, an exceptional college player.

Stepping into a huddle with Ben Roethlisberger, DeCastro realized Luck possesses the same leadership and commanding presence as the quarterback who has directed the Steelers to three Super Bowl appearances and a pair of NFL championships.

As DeCastro said, the best leaders don't need to establish their authority; they earn it with the confidence they inspire in their teammates.

“You get in the huddle, everyone listens,” DeCastro said. “They're guys you want to play for and protect.”

DeCastro spent his Saturdays shielding Luck. He hopes to spend his Sundays doing the same for Roethlisberger. Both quarterbacks will be on the field — though not necessarily for long — when Luck, this year's No. 1 pick, brings the Colts to Heinz Field for a preseason game Sunday night.

A week ago, Luck threw for a touchdown on his first play and finished 10 of 16 for 188 yards and two scores as the Colts defeated the Rams, 38-3.

“I wasn't surprised. I was happy for him,” said DeCastro, the 316-pound right guard who has practiced with the Steelers' starters almost since the opening day of camp. “We've both been busy in training camp, so it will be good to catch up with him.”

DeCastro, selected 24th overall, and Luck stay in touch, even though the dynamics of their relationship have changed. In the not-distant future, they will be on opposite sides in a game that counts. Each will be trying to deny the other a valuable win and, conceivably, much more.

Neither would have it any other way.

“He's competitive,” DeCastro said. “You knew that if you gave him time, with that ability, he was going to make the most out of it because he has that talent.”

Sort of like Roethlisberger.

This is the first season since Roethlisberger entered the league in 2004 — as a top-10 pick — that Bruce Arians isn't on the Steelers' offensive staff. The two not only worked well together, but they also were close friends. Arians was the offensive coordinator from 2007-11 but now has the same job in Indianapolis after being eased out in Pittsburgh last winter.

Just like DeCastro, Arians has gone from one franchise quarterback to another. Arians' role is to help develop Luck into the winner Roethlisberger has been.

Pittsburgh, Arians said, is in his rearview mirror.

“All I'm thinking about is practice in Indianapolis,” he said. “I don't think about anything in Pittsburgh, at least not until Sunday night.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin plans to play his starters more than he did 10 days ago during a 24-23 loss in Philadelphia, though that might not be possible. The initial Roethlisberger-led possession lasted 16 plays — most of the first quarter.

With running back Isaac Redman (groin) not expected to play, the carries are expected to be spread among Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and Chris Rainey. Outside linebacker Chris Carter gets more audition time as he fills in for the injured James Harrison, who had knee surgery last week. And Luck likely will test cornerback Keenan Lewis, who is attempting to hold off Cortez Allen for a starting job.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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