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Steelers notebook: DeCastro benefits from rule change

| Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, 10:50 p.m.

Steelers right guard David DeCastro is one of the first beneficiaries of the new NFL rule that allows a designated player on injured reserve to return and play during that season; previously, any player on IR was out for the season.

“We didn't know for sure whether we'd be able to get him back or not,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley said of DeCastro, who tore a medial collateral ligament and dislocated his right kneecap during an Aug. 25 preseason game. “It was a testament to him and the trainers for the hard work that he put in for a chunk of the season. To even get in a position to get out on the field I think is terrific.”

Trial run

DeCastro will make his first NFL start Sunday in Dallas alongside rookie right tackle Kelvin Beachum on one of the most inexperienced offensive lines the Steelers have fielded for a late-season game.

“He's a hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone type of kid that you don't hear much out of, and he got his opportunity to play,” Haley said of Beachum. “He'll be facing the ultimate test this week. These guys rushing outside in Dallas are the real deal.”

Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer (8 12 sacks) will primarily go against Beachum.

Momentum month

The Steelers (7-6) can make the playoffs if they lose to the Cowboys — next week's game against the Bengals becomes the proverbial must-win game — but wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said they need to start building momentum.

“A loss won't take us completely out of the playoff picture,” he said. “I wouldn't name it as a must-win, but we know we have to handle our business. It's the month of December, and always in the month of December you have to win.”

Immaculate marker

An historical marker located where Franco Harris made his Immaculate Reception against the Raiders 40 years ago at now-demolished Three Rivers Stadium will be unveiled at 4:15 p.m. Saturday. Harris will take part in the ceremony at the Stage AE complex on the North Side. A four-hour Immaculate Reception celebration at Stage AE starting at 6 p.m. is free to the public and will include the taping of a KDKA-TV special about the play.

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

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