Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Steelers Offensive Line Coach Not Afraid To Start Two Rookies; Harrison Not Practicing.

Rookies David DeCastro and Mike Adams have both missed all of the OTAs this offseason because of certain NCAA and university requirements. Per Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Official rule for college players is that they are allowed to attend OTAs once individual classwork/tests are complete,not when school's out." 

Well, it was reported recently, again by Kaboly, that both will be present for mini-camp: "David DeCastro, Alameda Ta'amu and Mike Adams WILL be at minicamp next week. It's confirmed." This is good news because both DeCastro and Adams need as much time and reps as they can get if they're going to be part of the Steelers starting five offensive linemen Week 1. 

Per Scott Brown, also of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler said that he wouldn't have a problem starting two rookies "if they can earn the jobs." He said further that he'd like to "have a starting five in place by start of training camp."

I wrote once before that I didn't remember the Steelers ever starting two rookies on the OLine opening day (not that I personally remember at least), and that research revealed that they hadn't done so in over 40 years (1968, if I remember correctly). That notwithstanding, Kugler is ready and willing if they are able.

The two rookies will be running with the first offense next week's mandatory mini-camp as well: "@ScottBrown_Trib: Kugler says DeCastro will work with first and second teams at mini camp as will Adams at left tackle." 

To this point, Marcus Gilbert, Jonathan Scott...AARGH!!! (sorry, I still have flashbacks... Can I finally just say goodbye to him and the over $2 million he's set to be paid this year??? That money could be used on someone who could actually block! But, I digress...), and Trai Essex have all had first team reps at left tackle. Gilbert has said not to count him out for the position, though. He says the left tackle spot is his natural and "dream" position. His dream is better than the nightmare that Jonathan Scott was, I admit. But he still has more experience, college and pro, at right tackle, and has reportedly seen most of his snaps on that side during OTAs.

Ramon Foster is speculated to be the backup at this point at right guard, the position he held last season, and has taken most of the first team snaps so far during the OTA sessions. DeCastro is a definite upgrade over Foster, but I'm on record as saying that he and Gilbert formed a good run blocking duo last year. He has his limitations, but he should continue to improve and be a good backup.

A little over two weeks ago I blogged that it was reported that outside linebacker James Harrison had looked fine at the beginning of that OTA session. Well, it was reported Tuesday by Mark Kaboly that Deebo "has worked out, but has not practiced since the first week of OTAs."

We haven't been given a reason as to why, but his back problems are well-documented.

Harrison was first diagnosed with a herniated disc in his lower back in October of 2010 and was presented then with the option of surgery, which would've caused him to miss the rest of the 2010 season, or play through it and put off surgery until after the season. The Silverback took the second option and ended up having two total back surgeries, the initial and the follow-up, within two weeks of each other after the Super Bowl loss.

Honestly, I refuse to speculate about anything going forward. Despite games missed due to injury and Goodell's hard-on for wielding his authority over Harrison, he still had 23.5 sacks over the last two years. Let's wait until Training Camp to see whether he's at full speed or not. He could be pacing himself and making sure his strength and conditioning are ready for the start of the 2012 season. It's early June, not late December, and too early to be concerned with Deebo missing games this year because of his back. 

I will comment, though, on how much work linebacker Jason Worilds needs behind the Silverback during Camp and the preseason. It's his third season, the year when ones are expected to fully come into their own. Harrison's back problems notwithstanding, more needs to be seen from Worilds. His Twitter handle is @WorildsGreatest-it's time to live up to his name.



"Whatever it is they have designed for me to do I'm going to do it and do it to the best of my abilities." - Antonio Brown

"We're in week four. It's definitely starting to click and the light bulb is starting to come on. Everyone is getting more comfortable with it. You're starting to see guys playing faster because we're not thinking as much." - Emmanuel Sanders

The Steelers will hold their 10th and final OTA session at Heinz Field on Thursday. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Haley when asked how long it'll take Wallace to pick up offense: "He has to pick it up, so he will."