Brutal news out of Pittsburgh today. Steelers first-round guard David DeCastro could miss the entire 2012 season an MCL tear suffered during preseason action against the Buffalo Bills. DeCastro was carted off the field after his right leg was bent backwards as he attempted to block a Buffalo pass rusher in Pittsburgh's own end zone. Head coach Mike Tomlin hinted after the contest that the injury may be severe; on Sunday, his fears were confirmed.
In addition to being terrible news for a young player just beginning his career, this leaves the entire Pittsburgh offensive line in dire straits. DeCastro was considered the most NFL-ready Steelers rookie since center Maurkice Pouncey.
Fellow rookie lineman Mike Adams does not appear ready to take on NFL caliber pass rushers and is battling some (infinitely less severe) knee issues of his own, leaving Max Starks to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's blind side at left tackle. Meanwhile, with and without DeCastro last night, the interior line struggled against the Bills' terrific front four. Willie Colon was pushed backwards by defenders from both guard spots (he took DeCastro's spot on the left side following the injury, while Ramon Foster settled in at left guard). Pouncey was also exposed a few times in limited action and hasn't appeared to be a truly dominant player since his rookie year. That leaves second-year man Marcus Gilbert, who is solid but unspectacular, at right tackle. Doug Legursky and Mike Adams will play roles as the primary backups for the interior and tackle spots, respectively.
This is a shaky unit at best. Except Todd Haley's offense to incorporate even more quick strikes in the passing game—we saw plenty of those in last night's dress rehearsal—to help mask what should be suspect protection.