Last night I reported early on that Pittsburgh Steelers rookie guard David DeCastro had suffered a serious knee injury when his knee buckled under him while trying to block Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcel Dareus. There was no doubt even as I watched it live the injury was bad. It was confirmed for me shortly after that it looked grim. DeCastro has a torn MCL; however in a spot of good news, he did not tear his ACL as was first believed.
DeCastro was drafted to be the heir apparent to Alan Faneca, one of the best interior offensive linemen in the history of the NFL. As I graded DeCastro out in college I had him rated as one of the 12 best players in the entire 2012 NFL Draft and the top rated interior offensive lineman I had graded since Chris Snee in 2004. When the Steelers drafted him, it was promising as he’d be paired up with another fabulous young lineman, center Maurkice Pouncey.
However, with this injury the Steelers are forced into a troubling situation. This will almost certainly force veteran Ramon Foster to guard, and will leave veteran tackles Max Starks and Marcus Gilbert with questionable depth as rookie tackle Mike Adams has struggled mightily.
With an MCL injury, it isn’t an automatic death sentence for the season like an ACL would be, but at this point it’s almost too early to speculate if he will be available this season or not. My best guess is he is shelved for the year and allowed full rehab and can come back ready in 2013. If this happens, the interior of that offensive line, one that has been pushed around this preseason, is going to get put to the test.
My take: I have had the Steelers as the favorite to win the AFC North this year, but at this point, if DeCastro cannot return, I’m not sure there’s enough talent left on the offensive line to stick with that. This was a group that already wasn’t really deep, but removing DeCastro from the starting lineup really tightens up the unit and will put a lot of pressure on the remaining players. But how many games the Steelers win at this point is unimportant and we all just wish this young man an speedy and full recovery.
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