Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro are entering their third season together as teammates, yet the pair of first-round draft selections have only played 146 meaningful snaps together in that time.
Since DeCastro was drafted in 2012, the Steelers have played approximately 2150 snaps of offensive football across the past two seasons. The total accumulated playing time of the two together amounts to just 9.3 percent of the team’s total offensive plays.
In 2012, DeCastro tore his MCL during the preseason, which caused him to miss the first 13 games of his rookie season. He came back to start the last three games of the year, but was forced out of the season finale after 11 snaps.
Pouncey, of course, suffered a torn ACL at the hands of DeCastro while the latter was attempting to execute a block just eight snaps into the Steelers’ season opener last year.
So it should be no surprise that the quality offensive line the Steelers have envisioned of late has yet to come to fruition when they’ve struggled to get their two most significant investments on the field at the same time.
In fact, Pouncey has more playing experience with Willie Colon at guard than he does with DeCastro. Likewise, DeCastro is far more used to playing with a center that is no longer on the roster in Fernando Velasco than he is with Pouncey.
Just because they haven’t been on the field together, however, doesn’t mean that they don’t have a bond and chemistry with one another.
In an article by Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DeCastro talked about the significance of the offensive line being intact once again:
“Having Pouncey back, you can’t say enough about that. We get along really well. We know each other so well, we almost don’t need to make (line) calls because we know each other so well”.
This on just 146 accrued snaps over the span of 32 regular season games in the past two seasons.
Of course, a lot more preparation takes place behind the scenes before we reach the regular season. The two interior linemen have actually played together more during the preseason over the past two years than they have in the regular season.
And they’ve also been through a pair of training camps together, lined up side by side, working on blocking schemes, line calls, and technique. Next month will be their third preseason lined up as the starting center and right guard, even if it hasn’t ended up that way once the snaps start to mean something.
So much has gone into nurturing the investment of a strong offensive interior offensive line in recent years, yet the end result keeps getting sidetracked. But if all goes as smoothly as it has been this offseason, this will be the year that investment begins to pay dividends, and perhaps even earns awards at the end of the season.