Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 first-round draft pick David DeCastro had a steep hurdle to climb in his rookie season when he and fellow offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert collided during a preseason game, which resulted in DeCastro tearing his ACL. He ended up missing most of the year, coming back for just the last three games to play right guard.
DeCastro had another injury hurdle to climb in his second year, but this time it wasn’t his own knee: it was Maurkice Pouncey’s knee.
On just the eighth snap of the Steelers’ season, the play call was an outside zone run to the left. DeCastro dove to take out a defender, but he ended up taking out his friend’s knee instead. Pouncey suffered a torn ACL and missed essentially the entire season.
DeCastro admitted yesterday to Teresa Varley that it affected him for a while during the year. He beat himself up over it, but he knew ultimately that he had to let it go and that he had to play his best to make up for it.
It was tough. It was real tough at first especially when you had something to do with it. It took me a while to recoup from that mentally, reset myself, refocus and know we still have some football there, you still have to play the games. I learned a lot about myself, had a lot of growing up to do. I thought the best thing I could do to make up for losing Pouncey was to play the best that I could, play the best football I could to help the team win.
I beat myself up. I think anyone would in that situation. At the same time I did that and then let it go. I had to. I knew if I kept beating myself up I would be doing more harm than good and just making things worse.
A big part of helping him let it go was Pouncey reaching out to him and assuring him that all was well and that accidents happen. That was a big step, surely: a player who the Steelers expect to be their best offensive lineman yet missing most of his rookie season accidentally taking out their leader on the offensive line and a three-time All-Pro.
That was a key leadership moment for Pouncey, who is now entering the final season of his rookie contract. He and DeCastro are expected to make up the heart and soul of that offensive line for the next decade or so. We will finally see the beginnings of that nucleus this season. And Pouncey being there for DeCastro despite being the cause of his injury, while not surprising, probably helped both of them get through last season.
The injury I had was an accident. Nobody can fault anyone for that. If I would have done the same thing to him I would hope he would have called me and told me everything is okay, you are my brother and I love you the same way. Things happen. That is how the conversation went.
If I did that to someone else I would hope they would call me and make me feel comfortable. I know he had to play the next couple of weeks and that is hard to do after something like that. He handled it the right way and he played great last year.