David DeCastro's career started with injuries that have been detrimental to the Steelers' high investment into their offensive line. His rookie year never allowed him to truly develop because of his preseason injury; and his first NFL opening day opportunity was the game where he injured 3-time all-pro center Maurkice Pouncey.
It would be safe to say that's now how everyone envisions a good start to their career. But since then, DeCastro's play has allowed for a slow resurgence of a ground game for Pittsburgh.
While DeCastro's size and physical skill set are definitely something that have been a big factor to his success in 2013, center Fernando Velasco sees the highest quality of DeCastro to be his mental capabilities.
"He knows everything that's going on out there," Velasco said. "He watches a lot of film, so he knows what to expect, and he uses it to his advantage."
Velasco would go on to say that he can't think of a lineman he's seen pick up the game faster than DeCastro has this season.
His brains in knowing where everyone is on the field is one thing, but without the knowledge of how to exploit opponents upon spotting their weaknesses, it couldn't be put to much good use. DeCastro's fellow guard Ramon Foster notes that the 2nd year player has no problem in that department either, saying that DeCastro has a profound ability to position his body so as to counter the move of opponents at the line of scrimmage and win key battles.
Even rookie running back Le'Veon Bell notices how strong of a player DeCastro is, while gaining 51 of his 93 yards against the Baltimore Ravens behind No. 66's blocks. Every time Bell is running through the line on the right side, he can see the effort DeCastro is putting into opening up holes.
What everyone agrees on though, is that DeCastro is still finding his stride. Velasco specifically notes that for all DeCastro's growth, he's still finding himself as an athlete in his position. DeCastro knows this as well.
"There are always things you can clean up," DeCastro said. "That's what the great players do, they always try to fix those things and be perfect."
The game slows down to where you just see things and notice things, and you don't have to think about as long. It doesn't take as long to process things," DeCastro said. "You just see it, and that's that. The mind already knows before you even have to think about it. Those are the real little things, subtle things, that make a difference."
For all the questioning of the front office that has happened this season, Kevin Colbert gave hints this would be the story of the 2013 Steelers' offensive line even before training camp began.
A young offensive line full of early picks doesn't automatically come together and dominate a line of scrimmage without losing battles along the way. This is what Kevin Colbert knew before the season started, and why the team shouldn't invest into too many more offensive lineman early in the upcoming drafts. While DeCastro is just one lineman, progress can be seen as a unit, which could be just the early stage of a changing of the guard for Pittsburgh's offensive battles at the line of scrimmage.
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