Steelers Versus Bengals Key Matchup: David DeCastro Versus Geno Atkins

Pittsburgh Steelers right guard David DeCastro will make just the sixth start of his young career Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, and it will mark the second time that he faces defensive tackle Geno Atkins in what figures to be a key matchup to watch in the game.

In the Week 16 meeting last year, Atkins certainly got the best of the Steelers first-round draft pick, who allowed two total sacks and three hurries in just his second NFL start. DeCastro didn’t fair much better in the run blocking department either against Atkins, who went on to be named a First-Team All-Pro at the end of the season.

DeCastro not only has the chore of dealing with Atkins Monday night, he must also likely deal with working beside a new center as well. Several reports indicate that Fernando Velasco, who was signed this past Monday to replace the injured Maurkice Pouncey, will start at center. The two will have to gel together quickly when it comes to twist, stunts and blitzes by the Bengals defensive front or else both will have a long night.

Back in early July, analyst Bucky Brooks named DeCastro as his top candidate to be the Most Improved Offensive Lineman for 2013. If that is to come to fruition, DeCastro will need to show a marked improvement Monday night against Atkins, who he figures to face several more times over the course of his career.

  • Lamarr56

    Atkins is a strait beast, I hope we can co tai. Him a little this week. DeCastro can hold his own against him and prove he’s worthy of that first round pick.

  • Rob H

    DeCastro playing well is one of the few things I’m not worried about this week, aside from the unfortunate incident with Pouncey, he and Foster have been the most consistent lineman on the team. With last years game, and last week serving as extra motivation, I expect DeCastro to be a beast in this game, and I expect Velasco to, at the very least be much better than Beachum at center, and having Johnson back at FB could be huge as well. It’s all going to be about whether or not the tackles can start playing like second round picks, and I’m not saying they have to play great, just showing SOME improvement, and playing adequately would make a huge difference.

  • Nolrog

    I don’t understand why the NFL doesn’t ban the chop block completely. Allowing it in any form (I think it’s legal as long as the linemen are next to each other) is just a recipe for injury. There’s no need for it in the game today.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    My eyes will be fixed on this matchup the entire game.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    It just looks like a dirty play to me legal or illegal.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    If DeCastro has a hard time with him you for sure will be.

  • PA2AK

    Needs to be illegal anytime you are previously engaged with someone and if there is no way for you to see it coming. I don’t have a problem with a 200lb rb chopping a free 300lb de as long as it is one on one. Unfortunately, like other penalties…there needs to be a judgment call involved.

  • VaDave

    Yep, that will be the game within the game, and if we don’t win it, we will not win.

  • CrazyTerry

    What makes you think DeCastro will be a beast. He is not even the best guard taken last year. That would be Cinci’s RG – Zietler who looked good from the very beginning of his training camp.

  • Rob H

    You must be clairvoyant, because I’m not sure how you can say who the best guard in the draft was, when tonight will be DeCastro’s sixth regular season game. I know that he was rated in the top 15 players coming out of that draft (regardless of position), but that’s cool, time will tell.