Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro is regarded as the quiet type, sort of like Heath Miller, but when he has something to say, he usually hits the mark, and he did so yesterday on the opening of training camp when he talked to reporters about the plight that some of his teammates have dealt themselves over the past few years.
He was referring, of course, to two of their young stars on offense, wide receiver Martavis Bryant and running back Le’Veon Bell, when he told reporters that “we’re used to it”, according to Will Graves, referring to playing without the services of some of their star players because of things other than injuries.
Bryant, of course, is serving an indefinite suspension that will see him parted from his team for at least the entirety of this season, which a chance for reinstatement early in the 2017 offseason, provided that he proves adequately able to return. The Browns’ Josh Gordon recently had his second bid for reinstatement approved, but will still serve a four-game suspension.
As for Bell, he spoke to the media yesterday, confirmation that he is facing a four-game suspension for what he describes as a missed drug that that he was informed of in March, which he claims was due to having changed his phone number.
Bell is currently appealing his suspension, but the prevailing belief is that his bid to overturn the suspension will fail, because the ball is placed primarily in the player’s court when it comes to notifying teams and the league about change of contact information. A reduction in the suspension is unlikely due to the way that the discipline for violation is written in the CBA.
Bell and Bryant are two of the Steelers’ most talented players on the offensive side of the ball, with Bell being a first-team All-Pro in 2014, and Bryant proving to be an emerging talent at wide receiver, in spite of the fact that he has only played in 21 games in his first two seasons.
Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl hopes are tied primarily to the offense’s ability to be prolific as possible, and any game in which their star players are absent puts the team at a disadvantage with respect to accomplishing their ultimate goal, which is, as ever, to be crowned champions at the end of the season.
“We’re so talented”, DeCastro told reporters, “and to lose guys like that is frustrating”, sharing a sentiment that no doubt all of his teammates share. To have teammates take themselves out of the mix due to foolish indiscretions outside of the game, knowing what everybody is trying to accomplish, must feel almost like a sort of betrayal.
But the former first-round pick, and first-team All-Pro himself, couldn’t be more right: this Steelers team has grown used to some of its star players hurting the team off the field. It’s not a comfortable thing to get used to, but they have shown resilience in the face of it, and hope to have the firepower to pick up the slack in the meantime, without losing sight of their championship goals.