Steelers notebook: Ankle injury forces DeCastro out vs. Patriots

Ralph N. Paulk
| Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 3:42 p.m.

Guard David DeCastro, who injured his right ankle at Oakland on Sunday, will miss Sunday's game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

DeCastro, who played the last four games of the 2012 season after injuring a knee during last preseason, had started every game. He will be replaced at right guard by Guy Whimper, who is listed as probable with a sore knee.

Receiver Markus Wheaton (finger) and Curtis Brown (not injury related) are also out.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, defensive tackle Steve McLendon and tight end Heath Miller (not injury related), guard Ramon Foster (concussion) and linebacker Lawrence Timmons (hand) are probable and were full participants in practice.

Wheaton ‘getting better'

Wheaton, out for a fourth consecutive game, was limited in practice Friday.

“I caught a lot of balls today, so I'm getting better,” Wheaton said.

He added that doctors said it could take several months before his right pinkie finger heals completely.

“But I still think I'll be able to play soon,” he said. “I want to play this week, but it's not up to me.”

Ben donates $30,000

The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation donated $30,000 on Friday to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia. The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback's contribution will enable at least seven children to fulfill wishes.

“I've always had a soft spot in my heart for kids,” Roethlisberger said. “Now that I have one of my own and have one on the way, that makes this special.”

“It's unusually large and wonderful and more than we expected,” said Judith Stone, Make-A-Wish president and CEO said of the donation.

Seeing zone

Receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders concede they are seeing more zone coverage than they expected. Even if cornerback Aqib Talib (hip) is unable to play Sunday, the Patriots likely will use more man coverage.

“For the longest time I thought New England was a zone team,” Sanders said. “The acquisition of Talib allowed them to use more man coverage. Every team we thought would play us man played more zone.”

Adams still a backup

Offensive tackle Mike Adams, who began the season as a starter, had a chance to audition for the starting job again after three linemen were injured at Oakland. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley was satisfied with the effort, but Adams still will serve as a backup Sunday, to Kelvin Beachum. Adams also will play tight end in short-yardage situations.

Red-zone challenge

The Steelers are 30th in red-zone offense, but defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau isn't overly pleased with the red-zone defense. The Patriots' red-zone offense has slipped to 50 percent from 67 percent last season, but LeBeau figures the outcome will hinge on how often New England has to settle for field goals. “Had we forced (Oakland) to a field goal in either of those (red-zone) trips, we would have won the game,” LeBeau said.

Steelers: Pats holding up

New England's secondary has a reputation for playing on the edge when it comes to bump-and-run coverage. Sanders said the Patriots aren't the only team holding up receivers 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. “I feel like the referees are letting corners play more aggressively than in the past,” he said. “These guys are putting their hands on us and bumping us 15 yards downfield. It's not just the Patriots. It's going on around the league.”

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.

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