After an incompletion, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is usually looking over toward his sideline, listening to his headset, maybe making a verbal adjustment with a receiver or coach.
About midway through the first quarter, on the Steelers' second drive of the game, he stood over rookie RG David DeCastro, hands on his knees, leaning toward his fallen teammate.
No adjustments being made, most likely. DeCastro was in obvious pain, bringing to mind the dreaded acronym Steelers fans have developed an involuntary twitch in hearing; A-C-L.
Fans may not be doctors, but we don't always have to be meteorologists to know when it's going to rain, either. Certain experiences are remembered, and when they repeat themselves, we're that much more aware of them. After all, including the pre and post season, the Steelers have had five ACL injuries in their last five games - NT Casey Hampton, RB Rashard Mendenhall, FB/TE David Johnson and LT Max Starks.
The way DeCastro crumpled down, the body language of his teammates, the tests the trainers were running on him. Adding all that together, at the very least we knew the injury wasn't a cramp or a sprain.
When the stretcher comes out, we know trainers feel the prognosis may not be good. WR Terrell Owens tore his ACL a while back and he walked off the field under his own power. Some players can do that, some cannot.
DeCastro was not one of those players. He went down, and he stayed down.
Roethlisberger's reaction spoke volumes. Always one to show love for his offensive linemen, even when their pass protection mildly suggests that love isn't a two-way street, he looked to be speaking to the rookie. He took his helmet off, and kept looking toward the sideline. He put his hands on his hips, making one wonder what he was thinking.
The Steelers most hyped draft pick in several years lay on the ground in pain, and watching the replay, the angle of how was pushed by DT Marcel Dareus, how DeCastro looks like he tried to square up to the hard-charging tackle, only to buckle under his weight, brought back the same memories of Mendenhall pulling up untouched and collapsing to the ground against Cleveland. Or Starks just falling under his own weight against Denver. Or Hampton seemingly going into a pile of people and coming out with one less healthy knee.
We've seen it before. Maybe not to a player as highly anticipated as DeCastro, but we know what these injuries look like now.
We now sit and wait vainly for confirmation of what we already know. Ramon Foster will again find himself inserted into the starting lineup. There's still rays of optimism, as the addition of DeCastro to the team clearly raised Foster's game, and he's looked better than he ever has.
But more than anything, it's the sense of bad luck and tragedy because a player who became so instantly loved by Steeler Nation not being a full-fledged part of it right away.
It may not be so bad, though. At least next year, after his rehabilitation, it'll be like having two first-round picks in training camp.