In his interview with the local Pittsburgh media on Monday, Steelers’ right guard David DeCastro answered a variety of questions about the upcoming season. Throughout the entire question and answer session, he managed to mention all of his starting fellow linemen in one form or another. Here is what DeCastro had to say about his teammates:
Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor
One place where the Steelers are unsure who will be the starting lineman for 2020 is at right tackle. When asked about lack of practice time in preparation for 2020, DeCastro talked about how the offensive line is a veteran group and will not be affected as much as other places. Even with the uncertainty as to who is starting at right tackle, both Chuks Okoroafor and Zach Banner have been with the Steelers for a couple years and have logged snaps for a greater body of work.
“You got guys in Banner and Chuks with game-time experience as well,” DeCastro explained. “So I think it bodes well for us and I’m excited see that competition at the right tackle spot.”
Whoever earns the job at starting right tackle will be playing next to DeCastro and will ultimately factor into how he approaches each game in 2020. He mentioned later on in the interview a second time about how he’s excited about seeing how the competition plays out.
“First of all I’m excited for the competition. I know both of those guys are really hungry. It’s going to be a tough battle for that right tackle spot.”
DeCastro was asked if there was concern over the shifting around of Matt Feiler who is moving from right tackle to left guard at least for the time being. While many choose to focus on the amount of time Feiler has played at tackle recently, DeCastro pointed out he has played almost every position across the offensive line.
“Even though Matt’s moving to the left guard, he’s got snaps before—game snaps. He’s played that position a lot. He’s bounced around before.”
DeCastro was asked if he had any advice for Feiler as he made the move this season to the interior of the offensive line. Understanding Feiler has been doing this job for some years, DeCastro downplayed the move.
“As far as Matt goes, I see Matt as pretty veteran,” DeCastro stated. “I don’t think he needs any tips. He’s played all around.”
DeCastro also discussed his appreciation for Feiler playing next to him for the greater part of the last two seasons.
“I’m gonna miss him at right tackle. I had a really good time playing with him last year. But it’s obviously best for the group for him to be at left guard. It’s a good choice. I think we’ll be really pretty solid. He’s a tremendous player. He’s built very low. He looks in great shape to play guard. He’s even like stockier and more anchor-ish than before, so he’s ready to go.”
DeCastro was asked a follow up question about if being “stocky and more anchor-ish” is important for the transition and if it will serve Feiler well at guard.
“Yeah, for sure. You’ve got to sacrifice a little; bulk up a little bit. You deal with some bigger guys, not maybe necessary as athletic and quick, but you deal with big, strong freaks in the middle.”
Maurkice Pouncey and Alejandro Villanueva
Of course DeCastro was questioned about the return of Ben Roethlisberger and what he brings to the huddle, the Steelers offense, and particularly the offensive line. When discussing Rothlisberger‘s leadership skills, DeCastro drew the comparison with his fellow All-Pro teammate center Maurkice Pouncey.
“It’s similar to Pouncey in a way that true leaders aren’t just good players in their own right,” DeCastro explained. “You have to have that ability, but they demand your best when you’re out there and you know, you kind of you fall in line. That’s a true leader.”
When it comes to taking pride in the offensive line being one of the strengths of the Steelers offense and entire team, DeCastro also knows that nothing last forever. After losing Ramon Foster to retirement following the 2019 season, the three starters on the offensive line for the Steelers who are not scheduled to change position this year are all over the age of 30 entering this season. Not knowing how much time they have left together, DeCastro is attempting to appreciate the ride for as long as he can.
“We’re all enjoying it. We all know we’re old. It might be Al’s last year. Pouncey and I are getting old, too. Who knows what’s going to happen? So we’re all just trying to enjoy it the most we can.”