INSIDE FEATURE: It's time to hype the (re)start of David DeCastro's career

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Only a seriously regimented and disciplined rehabilitation can bring a person back from the injury David DeCastro suffered in 2012. If DeCastro is anything, he's regimented and disciplined. And now, it looks like he's back on track for a brilliant career.

David DeCastro does not appear to be a funny guy.

He's not ha-ha funny. He isn't a clown. He doesn't amuse you.

That serious stare is a window into the mind of a machine; focused intently on his assignments. He doesn't get too high in celebration, or too down after getting beat.

It's the perfect mindset for an athlete who experienced a major injury, like DeCastro did in the team's third preseason game of his rookie year.

The most anticipated rookie since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, Steeler Nation dealt with the man who was considered the savior of the depleted running game with an air of premonition of another disappointing season.

In rare photos after the injury, DeCastro has the same look on his face as he did when the Steelers selected him with the 24th overall pick in the 2012 Draft.

In both situations, one could give him some slack for being disappointed. He was considered one of the best offensive guard prospects of the last decade, and wasn't supposed to be on the board at 24. In fact, rumor has it the Steelers offered the Jets a trade up to the 16th overall pick with DeCastro as their target. The Jets declined.

The Steelers had to be shocked and elated when they ended up giving nothing for DeCastro.

That elation turned to dread when their prize pony collapsed under the weight of right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who was knocked into DeCastro's prone right leg in the preseason game's first series.

Yet, that stare of concentration didn't change one bit when, after becoming the first Steelers player to be placed on the new Injured Reserve with designation to return list, he made his first start in Week 15 at Dallas.

The home city of 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Larry Allen, DeCastro finally made his highly anticipated debut with more of a muffled cheer amid a horrendous stretch of sloppy play from the Steelers. He had a few kick-out blocking responsibilities on likely Hall of Fame outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

Ware also got him on a quick move to the inside DeCastro failed to protect.

He beat Marcus Spears - a player he'll see at least twice this season as Spears signed with the Ravens - he got beat by Spears.

His debut fit his face - even, emotionless but strong and inspiring.

The beats by two quality players, as well as the victories over them, didn't change him. His injury and subsequent rehab didn't change him.

That can only mean he became stronger. The intestinal and mental fortitude needed to come back from such a disaster is just as rare as a man DeCastro's size being as light on his feet as he is. The same discipline he applies to perfecting his craft - which is well ahead of his experience - went into his physical growth.

It only leads one to believe he's going to come back to an even more anticipated debut - his first one after a full training camp behind him.

The Steelers can expect the kind of detail-oriented approach to his assignments reserved only for the extremely inflicted cases of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While he's taken some beats in pass protection, his speed laterally and his burst off the line in the run game is borderline scary.

In his second career start, facing the dominant defensive front of the Cincinnati Bengals, DeCastro showed the gap between a beat and a victory is narrow.

He was generally manhandled by the game's best interior lineman, Geno Atkins. The lessons he learned from Atkins is one NFL guards 10 years ago didn't get, because there were very few, if any, defensive tackles with the kind of explosion Atkins has.

Sniffing a crack of light to DeCastro's right, Atkins gets even with him and explodes to his outside, running Roethlisberger down like a tiger stalking a gazelle in an open field.

DeCastro was not the first, nor will he be the last, guard Atkins whips. Former Steelers left guard Willie Colon was taken off his cleats and hurled out of the way by Atkins in the team's first meeting in 2012. Colon weighs around 330 pounds and Atkins tossed him like a receipt into the trash.

Just a few plays later, though, DeCastro regrouped and flashed the technical superiority that has the team excited about his future.

The beauty of DeCastro's technical precision is inspiring. Almost hypnotic. He seals the defender inside, giving fullback Will Johnson a clear shot at the outside linebacker. Running back Jonathan Dwyer reads the crease, makes a nice move to fall forward, first down Steelers.

It's tempting to get lost in repeating that phrase over and over.

"First down, Steelers."

It's bland, dull and machinated. It fits DeCastro like the No. 66 - worn by Steelers great Alan Faneca in his Hall of Fame career, where he pulled from the left side to free runs like this seemingly by right.

DeCastro started his highly anticipated career by suffering a major setback. The agility he showed in the three games he played last year indicates he's come back from that.

It's now time to again anticipate the outstanding career of the Steelers' highest touted draft pick in nearly a decade.

The Renegade: Steelers 2013 Season Preview


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