Steelers guard DeCastro poised to pave way in 3rd season
Two years ago, the Steelers offensive line seemingly had turned the corner after the team selected guard David DeCastro in the first round. Then it suffered another setback when DeCastro was lost for the first three months of the 2012 season with a knee injury.
A year ago, the offensive front began the season feeling good about its chances. Besides, DeCastro was confident after getting through the preseason unscathed.
But a season-ending knee injury to center Maurkice Pouncey in the opener against Tennessee changed most everything. The Steelers, with the offensive front wobbly and uncertain, staggered to an 0-4 start.
The offensive line appears to be in a far better place after the first two weeks of training camp at St. Vincent, in part, because DeCastro and Pouncey are healthy.
“We're excited about having everybody back on the offensive line,” guard Kelvin Beachum said.
DeCastro and Pouncey are anxious to play their first regular-season game together since last September.
Of course, both must survive the preseason, which begins Saturday night when the Steelers face the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
“I'm really excited about having Pounce back and a chance to play with him this season,” DeCastro said. “We've added a few new people, like (running back LeGarrette) Blount and (receiver) Lance Moore, but having continuity on the offensive line means a lot.”
DeCastro is confident that continuity, coupled with a heightened sense of urgency, has made the offensive line a better unit.
“There's no real hesitation with what we want to do,” DeCastro said. “Last year when Pounce went down, it kind of threw things off. Right now, everyone is going full speed.
“We're just excited because most everything we do seems instinctive. We're not thinking too much.”
DeCastro was relentless during workouts as he rehabilitated his reconstructed knee. He has been just as relentless during training camp.
“I think everything has slowed down for me,” said DeCastro, who missed one game last season with an ankle injury. “I understand the game and my techniques. Things are happening naturally.”
DeCastro will be surprised if the Steelers run the ball more than they pass in the regular-season opener against AFC North rival Cleveland on Sept. 7 at Heinz Field. But he hopes offensive coordinator Todd Haley considers leaning more on the ground game.
“There's no doubt, as an offensive line, we would love to get it done on the ground,” DeCastro said. “Obviously, that's not the league we live in today.
“We have a great quarterback and receivers, so it's not realistic to think we'll rely solely on the run game. But it can be done because we have running backs with the drive to get it done.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.