By Matthew Marczi
End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: David DeCastro
Position: Right Guard
Experience: 2 Years
After a torn MCL effectively put his rookie season on ice, former first-round draft pick David DeCastro was for most intents and purposes playing his first NFL season in 2013. It showed up a bit early on, but by the middle of the season, he looked like he was on his way to his first of many Pro Bowl seasons.
DeCastro got off to a slow start, particularly against the pass, in the first couple of weeks, during which it looked like he was being physically overmatched by the interior defensive linemen he was being pitted against.
It wasn’t too long before he began to settle down, however, and after the entire line had a down performance in the run-blocking department against the New York Jets, he began to dominate as the running game ran through him on pulls to the left and up the middle. The first game against the Baltimore Ravens in particular was a true display of dominance and one of his best all-around games of the season.
The problems started again when he suffered an ankle sprain against the Oakland Raiders, which at one point resulted in Cody Wallace, Guy Whimper, and even Kelvin Beachum taking reps at guard due to injuries.
DeCastro missed the following game after the loss in Oakland, and when he returned, he was overmatched by the daunting interior defenses of the Buffalo Bills and the Detroit Lions in consecutive weeks, neither of which are ideal opponents for an interior lineman coming off an ankle injury.
He had his struggles for much of the rest of the season, but by the last few games, he seemed to be regaining some of that impressive mid-season form, dominating a Cincinnati Bengals interior defense that earlier in the season pushed him around—though admittedly it was an interior obviously lacking Geno Atkins.
In fact, at season’s end, DeCastro was recognized as a Pro Bowl alternate, although he was evidently a third alternate, considering both Mike Iupati and Louis Vasquez were selected for the Pro Bowl but could not participate due to an injury and advancing to the Super Bowl, respectively.
Evan Mathis and, surprisingly, rookie Kyle Long replaced those two, though I believe DeCastro was deserving. I fully expect him to be in the Pro Bowl next season if he listens to his new offensive line coach and learns to build off his growth and successes from this year.
Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Marcus Gilbert