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Steelers' offensive line morphing yet again

Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Steelers first round pick offensive guard David DeCastro plays agains the Eagles Aug. 2012.

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Walking wounded

The percentage of snaps played this season by the Steelers' Week 1 offensive line:

Player Snaps played Pct.

LT Max Starks 902 of 902 100 percent

RG Ramon Foster 842 of 902 93 percent

C Maurkice Pouncey 766 of 902 85 percent

LG Willie Colon 727 of 902 81 percent

RT Marcus Gilbert 246 of 902 27 percent

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Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 10:02 p.m.
 

It took Max Starks a moment to process what he had heard.

Starks, 30, less than a year removed from reconstructive knee surgery and jobless until a couple of weeks before training camp, is the only Steeler yet to miss a snap.

“Oh, God no,” said Starks, who put his fingers in his ears and made a “la-la-la” sound. “I am not going to jinx myself, not going to jinx myself, not going to jinx myself.”

That's 902 offensive snaps, and 902 offensive snaps played.

You can't blame Starks for being superstitious. All he has to do is look around to realize how fortunate he has been.

The Steelers were forced into 26 offensive line combinations last season. With the debut of rookie first-round pick David DeCastro in the starting lineup Sunday against Dallas, it will make the 11th offensive line combination this season and the sixth over the past four weeks.

DeCastro and rookie seventh-rounder Kelvin Beachum will start at guard and tackle, respectively, on the right side.

“Yeah, everybody keeps reminding me,” offensive coordinator Todd Haley quipped when asked about starting rookie linemen side by side.

The Steelers have experience adapting.

“It is almost like when it happens now, you don't fret about it,” guard Ramon Foster said. “You don't think it is a big deal.”

The Steelers, however, believe it is a big deal to get DeCastro back. He has been out since injuring his knee Aug. 25 during the third preseason game. With DeCastro in the lineup, Foster can move to left guard for the injured Willie Colon.

“We weren't sure if he was going to be able to make it back,” Haley said of DeCastro. “He is getting more and more comfortable, and he has passed every test.”

The Steelers placed DeCastro on the injured reserve/designated to return list in early September, and he worked his way back to the active roster two weeks ago.

“I am going to be a little nervous, but that's natural,” DeCastro said.

DeCastro has been working his way into game shape. He didn't play two weeks ago against Baltimore but saw action on field goal and extra point teams last week against San Diego.

“I definitely know the system,” he said. “It is just a matter of getting back out there. Live action is a little different than practice, but I feel great.”

Beachum has filled in nicely the past two weeks at right tackle for Mike Adams.

“We're making history,” Beachum said. “That's one thing that's cool.”

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

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