With the Pittsburgh Steelers having completed the first portion of their season, now would be as good a time as any to take a look back on what’s transpired this year and give out some midseason player evaluations.
The team has had a rocky but ultimately successful season to date, coming out of the first six games with a winning record despite being 1-2-1 just two weeks ago. Coming off of consecutive strong victories with improve play from both sides of the ball, things are looking up.
The offense has done its part for the most part, but has taken some long vacations. Their disappearing acts in the second half was perplexing, but that has improved. Defensively, the secondary is seemingly becoming a bit more stable after being nothing short of terrible previously, but there are absolutely some real concerns remaining.
Player: David DeCastro, G
David DeCastro has hardly even missed a snap due to injury in recent years. If I recall correctly, had he not been given the regular season finale off last season, he would have actually played every snap. Though his career began with a torn MCL, he has generally been healthy.
He fractured his hand in the season opener this year, however, and while he toughed it out through adrenaline for the remainder of that game, he had to miss the next two weeks and is surely playing with added precaution.
But he is also playing very well. As well as ever, in fact, over the course of the past couple of weeks. He struggled a bit in his first game back, but has been playing at a high level in the past two, particularly in his run-blocking, where he has naturally been featured as a lead blocker, and has helped James Conner break off a couple of long runs. He also had an inside pull on both of Conner’s one-yard rushing touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Pass protection used to be an issue for DeCastro, earlier in his career. Consistency also used to be an issue. But he is at a point in which he is simply in a zone. He knows exactly what he needs to do and has the physical and athletic capability to do it. That’s why he’s been an All-Pro for years now.
After missing a couple of games early, he is shaping up for yet another All-Pro year, though the return of Marshal Yanda could complicate things. More and more guards are in more high-profile roles these days, so the accolades may be harder to come by.
But whether or not he actually gets them, he is playing to a level that justifies it. His intelligence for diagnosing stunts and physically maneuvering them with Marcus Gilbert and Maurkice Pouncey is not to be overlooked, either.