Steelers' DeCastro carted off with injury
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Steelers were hit with injuries in the first half Saturday against Buffalo, as right guard David DeCastro, the team's No. 1 draft pick, starting running back Isaac Redman (left shoulder) and defensive end Brett Keisel (left high ankle sprain) left in the first quarter.
DeCastro's knee was bent sideways on a third-and-8 from the Steelers' 6-yard line in which Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete from a shotgun formation. DeCastro was in obvious pain, grimacing while being treated by the team's medical staff.
“It's potentially severe, but we'll see what the MRI says,” Tomlin said of DeCastro's injury. “We held (Keisel) out as a precaution, but he should be ready to go.”
Ramon Foster replaced DeCastro.
Redman was briefly sidelined after being diagnosed with a shoulder/neck injury. He returned midway through the opening period and ripped off an 18-yard gain that was wiped out by a holding penalty. Redman missed last weekend's preseason game against Indianapolis with a hip injury.
“I was speared behind my neck while I was on the ground,” Redman said. “I thought I would get up, but I had a burning sensation down my neck.”
Not so special
Dismissing special teams coordinator Al Everest did little to inspire the Steelers' punt and kickoff units.
Buffalo's Leodis McKelvin had 18- and 10-yard punt returns to help the Bills take a 7-0 lead.
The punt coverage team appeared to rebound, as Curtis Brown (team-high six tackles) and Ryan Mundy downed the ball at the Buffalo 1 with 6:34 left in the first quarter, but the play was reversed when Buffalo challenged the call.
Rookie Chris Rainey, who scored on a 41-yard run in the fourth quarter, couldn't generate much and was dumped for a 1-yard loss on a punt return.
Defensive end Ziggy Hood dominated the trenches in the first half.
The four-year veteran was in on four tackles, including one solo, in the first half. Hood also recovered a fumble caused by linebacker Lawrence Timmons at the Buffalo 18, tipped a pass, had three tackles and added a quarterback hit.
The Steelers didn't help themselves in a lackluster first quarter.
Their offensive execution was poor, as they failed to pick up a first down on their first two possessions. Also, Rainey and receiver Antonio Brown dropped passes with an open field ahead of them.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was further frustrated when receiver Emmanuel Sanders dropped a perfectly thrown pass on a deep sideline route with cornerback Aaron Williams trailing by two strides.
Missed turnover chances
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau wasn't pleased as the Bills ran the ball successfully during a scoring drive.
A silver lining was watching his linebackers combine to create an opportunity for a turnover.
Timmons hit quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose pass was tipped by Larry Foote, but LaMarr Woodley dropped the would-be interception. Woodley dropped another errant throw in the second quarter.
Dwyer impacts passing game
Jonathan Dwyer was a big part of the passing game on Friday night.
The third-year running back didn't gain much traction running the ball but was effective out of the backfield. He had three receptions for 48 yards, including a 33-yard catch to ignite an 11-play, 98-yard scoring drive that put the Steelers up 14-7 late in the first half.
“We're becoming a part of the (passing) reads,” Dwyer said. “We have a better screen package, and we'll be getting the ball in positions to let us use our legs.”
Rookie DB golden, again
Rookie free agent Robert Golden took another step in cementing a spot on the 53-man active roster.
He again was solid on special teams and impacted the game defensively. He intercepted a Vince Young pass to set up Byron Leftwich's 10-yard scoring pass to Derrick Williams that put cemented the victory.
Scott McKillop, a former Pitt standout, is among several linebackers Bills coach Chan Gailey hopes will develop before the team opens the regular season.
McKillop, a Kiski Area graduate, spent the 2009 season in San Francisco. He had 10 tackles in the first two preseason games and was expected to a get a long look from Bills defensive coordinator and former Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt.
Dorin Dickerson, a former All-Big East tight end at Pitt, is fighting for a roster spot with the Bills. The West Allegheny product doubles as an H-back in hopes of becoming one of the lead blockers for tailbacks Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.
Another former Panther, running back Zach Brown, is trying to find a spot as a returner.
Odds and ends
The officiating crew had to sort out a couple of disputed calls but only tossed two flags in the first half, both against the Steelers. … The Steelers rushed for 31 yards and netted 72 total yards in the first half.
Ralph N. Paulk is staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7923.