Coming off of his first Pro Bowl birth, Pittsburgh Steelers right guard David DeCastro will face one of his toughest tests this Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens and defensive linemen Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan.
Although DeCastro’s Pro Bowl selection was a surprise, the third-year guard of out Stanford has been a steady player for the Steelers at right guard in a year where the franchise has experienced tons of injuries across the board.
Due to the fact that he is so steady and tends to fly under the radar week to week due to the stars on the offense, DeCastro’s contributions to the offense in both phases of the game often get brushed aside.
It won’t be easy to brush aside his play this week.
While the Ravens are having a tough time this year with injuries on both sides of the ball, Jernigan and Williams have been consistent forces in the trenches for the 4-10 Ravens.
Williams is an absolute powerhouse that moves all over the line of scrimmage. He’s exceptionally strong at the point of attack and can anchor himself in the hole with the best of them.
At 6’1”, 335 pounds, the Missouri Southern State product is a load to try and move, often drawing double teams in the running game and commanding help in pass protection.
The same can’t be said for Jernigan, but that’s a good thing for Baltimore.
The second-year pro out of Florida State has slimmed down from his rookie year and looks much more explosive, fluid and seems to have added some pass rushing skills to his arsenal, hauling down quarterbacks three times this season.
The last time out against Pittsburgh, Williams and Jernigan combined for six tackles in Baltimore’s 23-20 overtime winon Thursday Night Football, Oct. 1.
Fortunately for Pittsburgh, the offense is as close to full health as they can be at this point in the season, while Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams and Co. click on all cylinders.
However, records and results from the previous week can be thrown out when it comes to this heated rivalry.
That’s where the importance of DeCastro comes in for Pittsburgh.
The old saying goes, “the game is won and lost in the trenches,” and that definitely holds true for Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium.
In both phases of the game DeCastro has to come up big for the Steelers, especially against Jernigan and Williams.
The duo was incredibly disruptive last week against Kansas City and they’re looking to carry that play over into this week against DeCastro and the rest of the Steelers offensive line.
It’s hard to comprehend how an offensive lineman can be an X-factor because he really doesn’t have a major impact on games as individuals, but in this game DeCastro can make a major impact just based off of the way he holds up against Jernigan and Williams.
Once the game kicks off Sunday, take your eye off the ball when the Steelers offense is on the field and lock in on DeCastro. How he fares in the trenches against Baltimore could play a major factor into the outcome of the game.