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DeCastro making strides in comeback

| Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, 5:19 p.m.
Chaz Palla
Steelers first-round draft pick David DeCastro is helped up after being injured during a preseason game Thursday, Aug. 25, 2012, at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. DeCastro tore his right medial collateral ligament, dislocated his kneecap and damaged his patellar tendon. He had surgery four days later and is working to return to the active roster later this season.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Pittsburgh Steelers' David DeCastro (66) is injured during the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Doug Benz)

It's been only five weeks since David DeCastro had surgery on his injured right knee, but the Steelers' first-round pick is walking without a limp and feels no pain.

DeCastro tore the medial collateral ligament, dislocated his kneecap and damaged the patellar tendon when his right leg buckled under him during a preseason game Aug. 25 in Buffalo. He had surgery four days later.

“I don't have any pain, so I'm just working hard to try to get back,” DeCastro said.

His rehab has consisted mostly of riding a stationary bike. He has yet to run but has been working out almost daily for a couple of weeks since he had a knee braced removed. He anticipates returning to the active roster later this season.

“I saw him (Wednesday) on the bike, and that was encouraging,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. “The key thing with an injury is that you stay in the mix mentally.”

DeCastro doesn't have to rush, thanks to an injured reserve/designated to return rule passed a day after his surgery.

Players can begin practicing six weeks after they were designated to IR and can return to the active roster two weeks after their first practice.

The earliest DeCastro can practice is Oct. 19, and the earliest he can be removed from IR would be in time for the Nov. 4 game against the New York Giants. The Steelers have the option to keep DeCastro on injured reserve as long as they want.

“He is all football all the time, so he is not a worry to us,” Haley said.

DeCastro has kept himself busy outside of rehab by becoming more involved in team meetings, practices and walk-throughs.

“The key for him is taking it day by day and getting himself healthy,” Haley said. “He's been in every meeting and doing all the extra things that all the young guys are doing. Some of that includes filling the refrigerator for the offensive line room and the chip bag and the snack box and all those things.”

DeCastro, the 24th overall pick out of Stanford, took over the starting right guard spot by the second week of training camp was being counted on to improve a suspect offensive line.

“He comes in and does his rehab and lately he has been staying for the evening meetings,” guard Ramon Foster said. “He is part of us like everybody else. He is part of the room. We don't treat him any differently than anybody else.”

DeCastro was in line to become just the fourth rookie lineman to start a season opener for the Steelers. The team is hoping to have him back in time for the stretch run.

“He knows what it takes to get back on the horse as soon as possible,” guard Willie Colon said. “Everybody around here is looking forward to getting him back out there.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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