“”Cracker-Jack,” just “Cracker-f@#!ng-Jack!” Another one bites the <expletive deleted> dust?!”
-Myself, during the 2nd Drive of the Steelers Week 3 Preseason win
Those were the only thoughts and phrases which I could muster at the sight of David DeCastro’s injury. Thankfully, my mind was somewhat occupied and mood under control, because I was about to watch the Padres administer a beat-down to the vastly overrated Diamondbacks. By the way, I sure most of you readers which are Pirates fans have noticed that San Diego has played some solid baseball as of late. But because I am not Peter King, I’ll refrain from making anymore references about baseball in a football-dedicated post.
If you readers did not happen to notice, I wrote a post last week which covered the carousel of players the Steelers had already used along their Offensive Line during this preseason. Well, the tune-skies for the never-ending game of musical chairs for the unit has yet to stop, and 4th year man/expert shuffler Ramon Foster will now be needed to step in at Right Guard. While it is a darn shame that DeCastro will likely not see any significant action until Easter of 2013, I am at least comfortable with Foster starting in DeCastro’s place. The former Tennessee Volunteer has started a career 26 N.F.L. games, and has the ability to at least do an adequate job at the position in the mean time. Plus, after watching Chris Kemoeatu and his undisciplined play over the previous few seasons, it cannot get much worse at either Guard spot right now.
Backup Line Getting Thinner
My confidence in Foster aside, I am worried about however is how thin the Steelers are currently spread along their Offensive Line in terms of their total personnel. Behind the projected starting five of Max Starks, Willie Colon, Maurkice Pouncey, Foster, and Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers have Doug Legursky, Trai Essex, and Rookie Mike Adams on the roster as the top backups.
Granted, “Leggo” and Essex have fit in well as super-subs before and should be able to fill in at one of the Guards (or even Center, I like Essex at Guard more) if some other disaster befalls this unit. But at this point (only Week 3 of the preseason, I know), this team cannot afford anymore devastating injuries along their Offensive Line, and there is little depth at Tackle with Foster now being kicked inside. But the ultimate “cherry on top” of this “crap-laden sundae” of a situation is that the veterans on the Offensive Line, Starks and Colon, have had their share of injury issues over the last few seasons, and could inevitably go down at some point this year.
While he has improved some, and possesses plenty of tools and athleticism to work with, Mike Adams has looked dreadful in pass-protection numerous times during the preseason. Heaven forbid if the team actually has to use the Rookie to protect Big Ben’s blind-side against players like Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, DeMarcus Ware, anybody in the Giants’ “NASCAR Package,” etc.. If a “trial by fire” scenario such as the aforementioned one occurs with Adams, I will just cross my fingers and hope that when “Big #7 Tree” inevitably falls, he does not “fall hard.”
On a positive note, it was nice to see the Steelers Offense get themselves somewhat in gear (especially on that 11 play 98 Yard scoring drive and Rainey’s splash play), the Defense force some Turnovers (kudos fellow Wildcat alum Robert Golden), and Daniel Hrapmann and Drew Butler make their cases to stick and stay as the team’s specialists.
At this point though, the DeCastro injury is the “turd” in the Steelers proverbial “preseason punchbowl.” With a week left to go in the preseason, and two before their showdown in Denver, Steelers have a large amount of work to do, and must continue to play “Roster Tetris” along their Offensive Line. My hopes for a season with less than 40 Sacks on Big Ben/Steelers Quarterbacks appears to be shot down for the moment. But as this organization preaches, “The Standard if The Standard,” and Foster now has a golden opportunity to earn a new contract next offseason with a solid showing over the coming months.
Let’s try and get past this negative turn of events “Steeler Nation,” and hope there is a way that the team’s Offensive Linemen can avoid being struck down with anymore injuries.
Time to sound off readers: How much will this injury hurt the Steelers this season? What were your first thoughts? Let me know below.
Stats Courtesy of: Pro Football Reference.com