By Matthew Marczi
Earlier in the season, I was among the many who expressed concern over David DeCastro and what seemed to be his lack of development in his second season, in which strength even appeared to be an issue. Fortunately, however, his play has continued to rise since then, with the last being perhaps his best yet.
In particular, he is looking more comfortable pulling and sticking on his blocks, and as a result, the team also seems comfortable pulling him more. Take this late-second quarter play, for instance:
DeCastro is the lead blocker on the play, pulling to his left, and sticks to linebacker Chad Greenway, allowing Le’Veon Bell to hit the hole hard for 11 yards. Heath Miller’s block on Jared Allen is also key to this play’s success.
On this run, DeCastro displays both some determination and strength. The defensive tackle initially gets the better of him, ripping his right shoulder down to get past him, but DeCastro is able to recover quickly and wheel him around, driving him out of the hole.
Later on the drive, DeCastro is beaten on first and goal, but recovers on second down for Bell’s second touchdown.
His assignment here was probably meant to be Greenway, but Miller ended up taking that block, so instead DeCastro improvises and helps David Johnson on his block with Allen as Bell drives his way into the end zone.
Finally, here he is in pass protection, showing to be the only offensive lineman not consistently being beaten on simple stunts.
On the play, the two tackles cross after the snap. DeCastro catches on quickly and is able to push the tackle out of Ben Roethlisberger’s face, which buys him enough time to find Jerricho Cotchery for the touchdown. Being fooled on stunts has been perhaps the biggest issue for the offensive line thus far, so it feels like a small victory when one of them does not work.
DeCastro has been the Steelers’ best lineman thus far this season, and he only appears to be on the rise. It will be important for that to continue throughout the year, especially with Maurkice Pouncey out, if the team has any chance of salvaging this disastrous season.