The Pittsburgh Steelers did not ask their starting offensive line to do too much in the second preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. It helps that the first two drives were relatively short, aided by a long reception in the first case and a short field in the second, but even considering that, the offensive line had it pretty easy.
The first-team offense stuck with the no huddle for the duration of their three possessions, with most of the action out of that coming in the form of screens and short passes, generally plays that require only a short period of blocking.
There was one stretch of three consecutive carries by Le’Veon Bell, however, that came on the second drive in which David DeCastro featured prominently, and it’s worth taking a look at each of these plays, during which the Steelers seemed determined to gain a first down on the ground.
Following an offside penalty that gave the Steelers a first down at the Buffalo 26-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger moved up from the shotgun to under center and handed the ball off to Bell. Off the snap, DeCastro was engaged in a double team with center Maurkice Pouncey, but once the center took control of the situation, he took notice of the charging Brandon Spikes.
Though he got a shoulder into the linebacker, Spikes’ momentum jarred him back just a bit. With Bell looking for a way out of traffic, DeCastro led Spikes up field and helped clear a way for the back to gain six yards.
On second down, DeCastro ran ahead in advance of the play to attempt to cut block Spikes, which was only partially successful in slowing the linebacker’s progress. When Pouncey got tied up and fell to the ground, freeing Kyle Williams, there wasn’t much room for Bell to run, so he simply pushed ahead to get what he could. Spikes arrived late to help clean up the play.
Now facing third and two, Roethlisberger handed it off to Bell for the third straight play, and for the third straight time, DeCastro engaged Spikes at the second level. The right guard was able to catch the linebacker’s inside shoulder and dip him around the circumference of the ball carrier, but fellow linebacker Nigel Bradham was nearby to make the tackle after three yards—still enough for the first down.
As previously mentioned, because of the quick passes, there wasn’t much to say about the pass protection, especially regarding the interior offensive line. It should be noted, however, that this was a change from last season’s game, in which the interior struggled.
Even though the Bills defended this play well, it may be the best bet at getting a glimpse of DeCastro doing something meaningful in pass protection from this previous game.
It was just a one-yard completion to Heath Miller, but the right guard had a nice little battle with Marcell Dareus. DeCastro got his hands up quickly, which Dareus was able to counter, but DeCastro was able to guide the defensive tackle safely out of the play—not that there was time for anything else to happen.