The Steelers started a pair of rookie offensive linemen in the preseason opener at Philadelphia. Of that tandem, ORG David DeCastro, the club’s first-round pick, was the clear standout. Second-round OLT Mike Adams, meanwhile, had something of a rough go of it, giving up multiple sacks and sustaining a knee injury.
“I thought they represented themselves well at times,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said afterward. "From an assignment standpoint I thought they were above the line. They were beat physically some, but that is life in the National Football League.”
Adams’ struggles primarily came in pass protection, where he was twice beaten by Eagles DE Phillip Hunt for sacks. Both times, Hunt used speed and strength to power around the edge, forcing fumbles Adams recovered. After the second sack, Adams soon departed with the knee injury, which Tomlin called “less significant” than the potentially season-ending one suffered by FB-TE David Johnson.
Though Adams has shown enough early in camp to emerge as the first-team left tackle, it remains to be seen whether he will hold the job when the regular season begins, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete. Once veteran OLT Max Starks returns from a knee injury, he figures to be a candidate to start, we’re told.
While the 6-7, 323-pound Adams didn’t have an exceptional professional debut, he did show well at times, especially as a run blocker. He moves quite well, and his potential is apparent.
DeCastro, who was listed as the second-team right guard on the Steelers’ initial 2012 depth chart, played like a potential regular-season starter against the Eagles. Tough, strong and athletic, DeCastro’s above-average movement ability was on full display. He quickly got to the second level on running plays, locking onto linebackers and proving to be tough to dislodge. On the Steelers’ longest rush of the game, he threw an exceptional block on Eagles DT Fletcher Cox as Jonathan Dwyer sprinted through the hole for a 33-yard gain. DeCastro was also fairly stout in pass protection, though he could have provided better help on Brandon Graham’s second-quarter sack.
In all, it was a nice start for DeCastro. Of course, it was simply that — the beginning. In the case of Adams, that’s very good news, all things considered. He’ll have to get better, and healthy, but he appears to have the capability to improve, and that’s a silver lining.