After suffering a serious knee injury last year in the third preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers right guard David DeCastro had to focus on his recovery in order to get himself on the field by the end of his rookie season. Now that he\'s back healthy, the Steelers 2012 first-round draft pick out of Stanford can fully shift his focus back to becoming a top notch offensive lineman in the NFL.
"The NFL is a lot different game than it is in college, just technique-wise, using your hands," DeCastro said after practice Tuesday, according to Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "There\'s stuff you pick up on and kind of teach yourself. A lot of guys already have that technique; you can see it in all the second- or third-year guys."
DeCastro, who last week said he spent most of his offseason in Pittsburgh working out with the rest of the Steelers offensive linemen, said on Tuesday he\'s taken bits and pieces of the techniques used by both center Maurkice Pouncey and guard Ramon Foster this offseason and that "it\'s all instinct now."
Through the first four practices of the Steelers 2013 OTA sessions, nose tackle Steve McLendon reportedly has said that he\'s seen DeCastro make a jump this offseason in practice, and that\'s certainly encouraging news.
Prior to his injury, DeCastro was more finesse than he was physical in his preseason action and even Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin pointed that out following the teams\' first exhibition game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I thought (Mike Adams and David DeCastro) represented themselves well, at times, at least from an assignment standpoint," Tomlin said, following the Eagles preseason game. "They were beat physically some, but that\'s life in the National Football League. I am sure they will take the lessons learned in that stadium tonight and build upon it."
When DeCastro returned last season after sitting out the first 13 games rehabbing his knee, he played well against a Dallas Cowboys team that was minus their top two nose tackles, but the following week against the Cincinnati Bengals, he struggled mightily against defensive tackle Geno Atkins on his way to allowing two sacks and three quarterback hurries in that game.
DeCastro will get a rematch against Atkins early in the 2013 season as the Steelers play the Bengals in Week 2 on Monday Night Football in Cincinnati. That game will be a test to see just how much DeCastro has learned this offseason and if he truly has bettered himself in the physical portion of his game in addition.
As far as his rehabbed knee goes, DeCastro doesn\'t seem to be bothered by it at all now.
"My knee\'s feeling great, I feel great," DeCastro said, per the Robinson report. "I feel fast, I feel loose."