When Stanford's All-American standout guard David DeCastro fell to them last spring, the Pittsburgh Steelers practically ran to the table to get the selection in. Steeler fans jumped with elation at the sound of the commissioner's voice, a first for sure, at the announcement of the pick. All seemed perfect for the second coming of Alan Faneca. Then, on a fateful day in Buffalo, it all came crashing down with a knee injury that left the rookie sidelined and put on injured reserve, with the designation to return.
That was more than three months ago, though, and the hour of return is upon the Steeler Nation. Normally, under these circumstances, the team's offensive line history, and the skill of the player, it would be a no-brainer to return DeCastro to the field as soon as possible, but the situation isn't so simple. The Steelers' paper-thin offensive line has played surprisingly well the last few weeks ,and it seems that cohesion has left DeCastro as the odd man out of the group, even if he does return. With Ramon Foster playing very well, it doesn't make much sense to bench him just to rush DeCastro back into the lineup. Willie Colon, on the other side, makes too much money to bench, despite the penalties he regularly incurs. Plus DeCastro was playing right guard rather than Colon's left spot. That leaves no room for the promising first-round pick.
That doesn't close the door, though.
With DeCastro eligible to practice any day now, he could in theory be suited up and ready to play by next week's game against the Ravens. This doesn't seem incredibly likely, though, as offensive line coach Sean Kugler says, “It is all on his timetable...He had a pretty significant knee injury." This isn't exactly the sign that fans eagerly awaiting the return of David want to hear.
That begs the question, though: Should the Steelers activate him if he isn't needed? I believe so, as DeCastro provides the Steelers with possibly the best depth at guard of any team in the NFL, an insurance policy that could be a wise investment if injuries start popping up. In the early games this season when the offensive line had someone limping to the sidelines every other play it seemed, there was a very real possibility of a tight end playing tackle.
While rushing DeCastro to the starting lineup might not be the wisest idea, bringing him back for depth and a chance to play, instead of completely forgoing his rookie season, would be a smart move for the Steelers. It would also make fans very happy. Only time will tell, though.