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David DeCastro Continues Improving


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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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About Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • James Kling

    I wasn’t too worried earlier when DDC was struggling a bit. Loved this pick, sad that he lost so much time out of his rookie season, but knew that he was going to turn it around. I think he’ll be a dominant OG sooner than later. Guy has a great work ethic, is smart and strong, and is going to be a part of the OL turnaround if we can ever find a LT.

  • Ahmad

    The OL has always struggled with stunts, especially T E stunts. I would have the OL practice against stunts so much until they could defend them in their sleep.

  • Callentown

    I’m still a little concerned that ‘strength’ keeps coming up in his second season. I recall this was a problem from the start.

    If DeCastro doesn’t work out, I mean . . . . we would be starting completely from scratch with this offensive line. I hope he can get there.

  • JAMESH

    Beachum also does a nice job of picking up the stunt here.

  • dgh57

    David DeCastro is the least of my concerns on the OL as we don’t even know who’s starting at LT yet. DD will get better with each game as playing time is what usually gets you better at your craft.

  • cencalsteeler

    DeCastros strength is to pull and he is doing a very nice job of it. I’m glad they are designing plays based on his pulling abilities.

  • dgh57

    Yes indeed, as DeCastro’s specialty was pulling to his left at Stanford. So they are playing to his strengths when doing so.

  • Douglas Andrews

    G is probably Beachum’s best position. When they put him at T you just have to keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best.

  • Douglas Andrews

    That Right side of the line seems much improved with Gilbert and Decastro. Seems like Decastro’s knee is fully healed healed now and he’s able to get that push and anchor that’s needed. He looks night and day different from the end of last year.

  • Terrence Phelps

    I forgot I was supposed to be looking at DeCastro lol…man is Bell shifty can’t wait to see him get more touches.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    I for one, and really happy with the progress he has made this season, particularly considering he is basically still a rookie.

  • steeltown

    I like seeing and hearing positives during such a down time… DeCastro, Velasco, Vince Williams, A.Brown, LeVeon Bell and Heath’s return all have been positives thus far.. im hoping Wheaton and Shamarko can get some more substantial playing time this year, we’ll need them next season

  • Brendon Glad

    He deserved every bit of criticism he got, because never have I seen a ‘botched play/friendly-fire injury’ deflate a team and fanbase quite like his in game 1.
    BUT, Steelers fans don’t write-off players over one game. Especially young players. His mistake was crushing, but it is very encouraging that instead of “folding” (in a Tom Rickets, Jamain Stephens type of way), he has learned from it and progressed.
    Some of you older Steeler fans may remember a young sixth-rounder named John Jackson…He was playing the Saints as a LT early in his rookie season…and if I’m not mistaken, gave up 4.5 sacks to Patrick Swilling. As a younger fan, I admit, if there were blogs back then I would have been calling John Jackson ‘worthless’. But as it turns out, he’s probably my favorite LT of my cognizant lifetime as a Steelers fan (born 1971). A young Tunch Ilkin also got destroyed by Lyle Alzado early in his career. And became an excellent tackle.
    DeCastro is a guard, and it is one of the more difficult things for a fan like me to analyze (because I only see the game once), but it looks like he may be flowing more towards the Jackson/Ilkin ‘handling of failure’…as opposed to the Tom Rickets, Jamain Stephens ‘handling of failure’. And that’s a good thing.
    “We”‘ve won superbowls with Line play of similar breakdowns. I haven’t liked the OL for about 7 years now, so I still hope for improvement every fall. But the change in performance (W/L)…firmly lands on the Defense at this point. Because even though OL and Special-teams play remain consistently horrible/or poor at best, the sudden decline of the Defense has caught the entirity of Steelers Nation (from the Coaches, to the team, to the fans) off-guard. So that’s where the mirror needs to point right now.
    I live in K.C. So I know about Cassel. The Steelers may have single-handedly saved a QB with shattered confidence’s career. He looked so comfortable that I almost broke my TV.

  • Brendon Glad

    I loved the pick as well. And am sticking with that too. But when a team spends a first round pick on an OG, he needs to be NOTICEABLY better than most of the league. Because most teams can find starting OG’s in the 4th round or below. So I hope he does that. “Alan Faneca?…or Kendall Simmons?” He needs to be closer to the former. And that’s just the bottom-line. When you draft an OG in the first-round he needs to be dang good.

  • chris ward

    Decastro has looked solid the last two games.

  • Dr. Doom

    Way to recover this season.

  • James Kling

    It’s tough for OL guys to just come in and dominate as rookies, and you have to remember the severity of his injury and time lost – he’s got 7 starts under his belt, which means on an apples-to-apples basis, he’s had as much real game experience as a guy not yet at the halfway mark of his rookie season. Now, he’s had more time than that with his nose in the playbook and participating in team activities and conditioning, but IMO he’s well ahead of where a rookie with 7 starts would be. I think the Faneca comparison may end up being a very good one.

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