The Steelers had high hopes for their newly drafted and tooled offensive line for the 2012 season. That has all but disappeared in a puff of smoke – or in this case rubber pellets. Rookie guard David DeCastro went down with a dislocated knee that turned into a MCL tear and slight tear in his patella (most reports say that the ACL is intact). This puts a major kink in the Steelers plan of having a more forceful run game and better protected passing game. Up to the point of his injury, DeCastro was little mentioned in games – and that was a good thing because he wasn’t making much in the way of mistakes.
At halftime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had this to say about DeCastro’s injury:
‘We don’t obviously know — well, I don’t know what the official word is. This is a great field, but it’s FieldTurf, and it’s just killing guys because they can’t get their feet out of the ground, and it’s just another reason we should get rid of FieldTurf.’
FieldTurf is the supposed generational improvement to the awful 60’s invention of AstroTurf. AstroTurf is simply horrid – as it is seen as the main cause for just about any injury out there from the waist down on a football player…. unless of course your name happens to be T.J. Lang. Anyone who’s been a part of Steeler Nation old enough to remember the days of Three Rivers Stadium know exactly what I’m talking about. Hell anyone who’s ever stepped onto any number of high school fields know. That stuff hurts. So over the course of the last decade, stadiums have begun to change to either FieldTurf or natural grass turf – Heinz is of the latter, of course.
FieldTurf has it’s problems and is far from being a field of dreams. In 2010, the NFL’s Injury and Safety Panel released a study that said that anterior cruciate ligament injuries were 88 percent more likely to occur on FieldTurf surfaces than on natural grass fields. That’s a big reason why the Steelers insist upon having natural turf – even if it means it gets a bit muddy and torn up over the course of the season.
Now I’m not going to start touting that FieldTurf should be rolled up and sent to the next tire fire. But, is Roethlisberger right to criticize FieldTurf? It’s clear from the replay that Marcus Gilbert contributed to the series of events and injury by falling onto DeCastro. Is the field to blame at all for one or both of these guys losing their footing. Coincidentally the study mentioned earlier also found that ankle injuries are more frequent on FieldTurf. Brett Keisel suffered an ankle sprain in the same game.