The Pittsburgh Steelers have parted ways with a number of aging talents that epitomized success in the community during the height of their careers. While their on-field assets may have diminished over the years, however, one should not underestimate the ripple effect that their departures could have within the locker room.
While the concepts of camaraderie and leadership may be somewhat elusive when it comes to the team chemistry of a sports team, there is no doubt some truth to the idea that these qualities help build a winning team, especially when it comes to a game as interconnected with one another as is football.
The last several offseasons have seen some quality championship characters exit stage right, and their vacant lockers no doubt diminished the overall character of the room as a whole. Just recently, the team saw both Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu retire, even if their departures were already in the plans for this spring.
While the Steelers do maintain a select body of leaders within the locker room, which I have already explored, it’s equally important for them to foster a group of emerging players who can enter leadership roles of their own in time.
The next most logical candidate for developing into a future leadership role would be, I think, David DeCastro, which may especially be the case if the Steelers and Ramon Foster end up parting ways after this season.
I think it’s pretty clear that DeCastro is, if not the second-best, than at the very least the second-most talented offensive lineman that the Steelers have, behind center Maurkice Pouncey, who has already been to the Pro Bowl four times.
DeCastro would be the next logical choice among the Steelers’ linemen to end up in the Pro Bowl. He was a known alternate in 2013, and may have been as well, although the list of alternates was kept quieter starting with last year’s Pro Bowl.
Speaking of quieter, DeCastro has a reputation for being the strong, silent type, which followed him from college to the pros. And that’s fine, it’s just his type of personality, and one I can relate to. You don’t have to be a rah-rah loudmouth type of locker room presence in order to be a leader. See Troy Polamalu or Heath Miller.
DeCastro has broken the ice over the past couple of years as he’s grown more accustomed to his teammates, his environment, and life in the NFL in front of the media. He’s never going to be the gregarious sort in front of the media, but behind the scenes, he has the capability of being a leader within the offensive line room.
It starts, of course, with leading by example. The Steelers utilize him in a prominent role, as the key fixture of one of their cornerstone rushing plays, so that already puts the spotlight on him, and gets him noticed even by the casual observer who doesn’t follow offensive line play.
He may never be the vocal leader type, but I believe he is the type who, when he does speak, others will listen, because they know it will be meaningful. As long as he has the success on the field to back it up.