According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, veteran right guard David DeCastro is not expected to be available for the Pittsburgh Steelers for participation in their season opener against the New York Giants on Monday night.
Five-time Pro Bowl G David DeCastro not expected to play against NY Giants and will be replaced by newcomer Stefen Wisniewski. That means Steelers will begin the season with 3 players at new positions on the O-line – maybe not a good thing for Ben’s first game back.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) September 8, 2020
The ninth-year veteran had been suffering through injury through much of the padded portions of the latter stages of training camp. He did not participate in yesterday’s ‘bonus’ practice day. Earlier today during his pre-game press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that there was some uncertainty regarding his status.
“We didn’t work David yesterday on a bonus day”, he said. “We’ll see what tomorrow holds as we begin our preparation week. I know he’s excited about getting back out there with his teammates as soon as possible”.
I’m sure Tomlin will not be thrilled about Dulac publishing this information, assuming that his intel is accurate. Adam Crowley earlier today also reported that Zach Banner would be the right tackle, which Tomlin today suggested was still in the air.
DeCastro played in all 16 games last season, but he did miss two early in the 2018 season due to a hand injury. Prior to that, he had not missed a start due to injury since his second season in 2013, missing one game. He also missed the majority of his rookie season after suffering a torn MCL in a friendly-fire incident in the preseason.
Veteran Stefen Wisniewski, who started five games for the Kansas City Chief last year, including their Super Bowl victory, would be expected to start in his place. A Pittsburgh native, he has over 100 starts at both guard and center combined over the course of his career.
DeCastro’s health status was also indicated in the Steelers’ decision to keep first-year offensive lineman J.C. Hassenauer on the 53-man roster. With Wisniewski in the starting lineup, Hassenauer will be the only reserve capable of playing center.
With the ability to dress eight linemen, both Hassenauer and Kevin Dotson would dress for the opener. What they would do in the event of an injury is uncertain. Would Wisniewski move to center if Maurkice Pouncey were injured, for example, or would they just play Hassenauer?
Perhaps that is what they will have to determine this week. In the meantime, let’s just appreciate the fact that this news also means Wisniewski is healthy, as there seemed to be some speculation that he was dealing with an injury as well.
When he first signed back in March, following the retirement of Ramon Foster and the departure of B.J. Finney in free agency, he said that he had been told he would be given an opportunity to compete to start at left guard. The truncated offseason threw a wrench in those plans, but now he’ll quickly get a chance to play anyway.