Life sure is easier when your All-Pro guard is back in the lineup. No disrespect to Kevin Dotson, who played great in his first start Sunday, but Randy Fichtner is thrilled to have David DeCastro manning his right guard spot should he return this weekend.
“I know that from a communication standpoint, I know from an experience standpoint, I know just his personality and just how hard he has worked to put himself in position to get back will be awesome,” Fichtner said via a team transcript. “Nothing against young [Kevin] Dotson last week because I thought he played really well for a first opportunity to play, but obviously, your strength in number.”
Fichtner didn’t guarantee DeCastro entering the lineup. But he’s practiced in full the past two days so barring a setback, he should suit up against the Houston Texans Sunday. DeCastro is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All Pro. Injured in training camp with a knee injury, he missed the first two weeks of the season. After an injury his rookie season, DeCastro’s played at least 14 games the last seven seasons so it’s rare for him not to be in the lineup.
His return will give the o-line back some depth after dealing with multiple injuries to begin the season. Stefen Wisniewski suffered a torn pec in Week One, Zach Banner tore his ACL, leaving the team to promote Derwin Gray from the practice squad and sign Jerald Hawkins off the Texans’ taxi unit. Dotson will return to his backup role, though it’s unclear if he’s the top backup at both guard spots or just on the right side.
DeCastro will be an asset to RT Chukwuma Okorafor, tasked with taking on JJ Watt. Watt lines up all over the front but is primarily their RDE. Sliding protection that way, DeCastro helping Okorafor when uncovered, will make his job a lot less difficult. A happy Fichtner should mean a happy Roethlisberger and an offensive line that feels a lot less patchwork than it has been.