Watching David DeCastro laying on the Orchard Park Turf last night in excruciating pain gave me instant ulcer as I’m sure it did many of you. DeCastro will have an MRI today and either way he’s going to miss a significant part of the season. According to NFL.com earlier this morning: Pittsburgh Steelers rookie guard David DeCastro suffered injuries to his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in Saturday night’s preseason game and will be out awhile, a source with knowledge of the situation told NFL.com and NFL Network. DeCastro was carted off the field with what Steelers coach Mike Tomlin later called a “potentially severe” right knee injury.
Depth is everything on an NFL team and the Steelers looked like they were going to finally have their share of it for 2012. DeCastro was supposed to be the starter, and Ramon Foster could back him up. Willie Colon would play Left Guard and both Foster and Doug Legursky could back him up. Marcus Gilbert and Max Starks each playing Tackle and then you have Mike Adams available (or some combination thereof). Maurkice Pouncey is healthy again and at his anchor position at Center, with Legursky backing him up. Toss in Trai Essex and a few project players and you’ve got yourself a pretty formidable group with both experienced depth and youth to build on behind it.
How can one player make all this happen? Well perhaps it’s a big overstated but it’s still true. Each position on the offensive line, in a perfect world, has 1 capable backup behind him, and for the Steelers that’s usually a utility lineman who’s versatile enough to move around to multiple positions. . It doesn’t always work out that way with close to equal talent but that’s how you draw it up at least. With DeCastro’s absence you now force one of those guys, Ramon Foster, into a starting role and take one less away from the depth.
It’s not so much that Sean Kugler can’t find another body, but rather is that body capable enough? Being 6’3″ 320 lbs doesn’t automatically make you a good lineman. It’s not like every team in the world has 10 offensive lineman who are all capable starters, it just doesn’t work out that way. I was just hoping that for once the Steelers could enter the regular season healthy with 5 games able to grow and gel as a group, giving them an offensive line finally that was able to protect Roethlisberger.
All is not completely doom and gloom, Ramon Foster is more than capable and has starting experience the last 2 seasons. If you’re going to need someone to play you’d prefer that he has some experience and Foster fits that bill. He’s actually been one of the most consistently healthy lineman on the team for the last 2 years. The key for Foster’s success will be the health of the players around him, just like anyone else. He’s a road grader in the run game but occasionally gets turned around in pass protection. A consistent Maurkice Pouncey to his left and Marcus Gilbert on his right will help these guys tremendously.
Foster was the starting RG during the Super Bowl XLV run and last season when Doug Legursky was given the nod to start the year, Ramon was there to mop up and come back in when Legursky struggled. That’s kinda how it’s been for this undrafted free agent. People keep doubting him and he just continues to step up and play his heart out. He’s a very humble man and is willing to do anything the coaches ask. He knew that when the Steelers drafted DeCastro that he was going to eventually be the starter, but he took his opportunities and made the best of them. You won’t hear a complaint out of this kid, he just wants to win a Super Bowl and play whatever role is asked of him.
We don’t yet know if the Steelers Offensive Line is going to be another rendition of musical chairs, and let’s hope that it’s not. For the time being, Foster will be the starter and we can only pray to the football gods that nobody else gets hurt anytime soon.