When the Steelers face the Bengals primetime on Monday Night Football, the Bengals present many challenges. They have a dominant receiver in A.J. Green at Andy Dalton’s disposal, as well as the daunting task of stopping the two headed monster in Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Other than Jarvis Jones, Tyler Eifert would have been another pick I would have liked for the Steelers last Spring. And by the way, the Bengals have an angry James Harrison that gets to seek revenge on his former team after his release this past offseason.
While all of these factors scare me, defensive tackle Geno Atkins has to scare me the most. With 12.5 sacks last season, he trailed only Von Miller and Cameron Wake in pressuring the quarterback last season, as a three-technique defensive tackle. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t believe that unless I saw how Atkins terrorized the Steelers offensive line last season. I will always remember the play where he put Willie Colon on ice skates and made him look like a high school offensive lineman.
Should the Steelers offense just quite because the Steelers see Geno Atkins on the field? Of course not, and the Steelers may have found their answer for Atkins, coming in the form of a first round pick out of Stanford. While David DeCastro will be looked at as the guy who ended Maurkice Pouncey’s season, he has looked the best out of all five of the Steelers offensive lineman. I understand that isn’t saying much, but David DeCastro has looked the part of a first round pick that many saw as a steal at 24th overall. DeCastro has made major improvements adjusting to the NFL level of play, and instead of being a guy that is being caught off guard, letting others force the issue, DeCastro has had a quiet confidence as he goes after people. His technique has become quite sound, and he looks to make major improvements from his two sacks given up against the Bengals last season. While some may look to last years game in week 16 as an indicator, it is important to remember that DeCastro was coming off a major knee injury, as well as the fact he was a very inexperienced rookie.
Geno Atkins will sometimes be seen lining up at almost an end spot, or a three-technique on the left guard, but for the most part last season, he would line up on the right guard, which is where DeCastro plays. Both Atkins and DeCastro have athletic, but strong builds, so it will be very interesting to see if the first round pick can step up to the plate and shutdown one of the best defensive players in the NFL.With Geno Atkins recently signing a 5-year, 55 million dollar contract extension, the Steelers are crossing their fingers that the first round investment will pay off, starting on Monday night.
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