View Full Version : Kugler: "Fortunately, DeCastro is not done for the year"

08-28-2012, 01:31 AM
Steelers G David DeCastro to have surgery, won't go on IR

By Chris Adamski | CBSSports.com
August 27, 2012

As compared to his usual steely demeanor, Pittsburgh Steelers G David DeCastro was downright giddy Monday at the Steelers' practice facility.

Odd for a day in which the rookie was moving around on crutches and in a large knee brace. Odder still on the day of the first NFL practice he would miss due to injury -- one that could have him out of action for a significant period of time.

But perhaps there was good reason for the relatively cheery disposition.

OL coach Sean Kugler told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Monday that DeCastro will not be placed on injured reserve.

"Fortunately, he's not done for the year," Kugler told the Trib immediately after practice. "It is going to be a long comeback for him, but just the fact that it wasn't something devastating that ended his year (is positive). ... I think David will be back this year, and he's intent on doing that; I know that."

Before practice, DeCastro participated in team meetings and went through what was seemingly a normal practice day -- other than the crutches and the brace.

"He had a smile on his face, and he was joking around with the guys as normal," C Maurkice Pouncey said. "And hopefully it stays that way."

Smiles? Joking? This is the player the affable Pouncey dubbed "Mr. Personality" early in camp because of his no-nonsense, businesslike ways.

Coach Mike Tomlin was asked if DeCastro was able to remain upbeat on a day like Monday.

"For DeCastro, (yes)," Tomlin said.

Tomlin was then asked if he was surprised that the Stanford product was upbeat.

"Well, those of you who know DeCastro, know that 'upbeat' for him is a stretch," Tomlin said.

Earlier in the day, DeCastro sat back in a chair in the team facility's lobby. He nodded when asked if he was upbeat and cracked a smile. Knowing that Tomlin has a strict nobody-talks-about-injuries-publicly policy, he could only say, "I don't know," when asked if he was out for the season.

"Unfortunately, (the injury) happened, but the next man will step up and fill the position," reserve OL Doug Legursky said. "That's what we've shown through the years. The next man has to step up and the standard is the standard. That's what we embrace around here."

In this case, it's Ramon Foster who is the "next man." Foster has started at least four games every season since joining the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent from Tennessee in 2009. Despite never going into training camp as a starter, he has started 26 games in three seasons at guard.

"It's just good to be that guy," Foster said. "'The more you can do' is one of Coach Mike Tomlin's main things, and it's shown a lot lately -- at least since I've been here and with other guys, too."

Foster was a tackle in college and started at right tackle for the Steelers' preseason game against the Colts on Aug. 19. But he has played almost exclusively guard during the regular season with the Steelers.

DeCastro will have surgery Wednesday, according to Tomlin. On Sunday, ESPN cited sources in reporting that DeCastro tore his medial collateral ligament and suffered some damage to his patellar tendon. But the ACL is intact, according to ESPN's sources.

On Friday, the Steelers must make 22 cuts to get their roster down to the regular-season standard of 53. If DeCastro is placed on IR, he's done for the season. If he's not, a roster spot must be used on him that could have been available for another player.


08-28-2012, 06:32 AM
On Friday, the Steelers must make 22 cuts to get their roster down to the regular-season standard of 53. If DeCastro is placed on IR, he's done for the season. If he's not, a roster spot must be used on him that could have been available for another player.

---You have to be careful with this IR stuff. I would not have believed it, but you can lose a player that is put on IR. How this could happen is beyond me. Can anyone explain?

Ben Ijalana was lost for the season (http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82af46d8/article/colts-ben-ijalana-aj-edds-out-for-2012-with-torn-acls) after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during training camp practice on Sunday.

In need of a roster spot, the Colts (http://www.nfl.com/teams/indianapoliscolts/profile?team=IND) dangled Ijalana in front of the other 31 NFL teams when they placed him on waivers on Wednesday.

Ijalana has less than four accrued seasons, so the only way the Colts (http://www.nfl.com/teams/indianapoliscolts/profile?team=IND) could have moved the guard off the 90-man roster and onto injured reserve at this point in the NFL calendar is to expose him to the waiver wire.
If he's not claimed, he will revert back to the Colts (http://www.nfl.com/teams/indianapoliscolts/profile?team=IND)' injured reserve list. For a player with no shot to play this season, it's a low-risk move by a front office that inherited Ijalana. But as the New York Giants (http://www.nfl.com/teams/newyorkgiants/profile?team=NYG) learned in June when tight end Jake Ballard was unexpectedly claimed (http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d829c54b3/article/jake-ballard-exgiants-te-claimed-by-patriots) off waivers by the New England Patriots (http://www.nfl.com/teams/newenglandpatriots/profile?team=NE), anything can happen.

All it would take is one team to be willing to pay Ijalana, the No. 49 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, his fully guaranteed base salary of $558,886 for the 2012 season while he rehabs to return to the field in 2013.

---What was of interest to me here was how the Giants lost Jake Ballard who tore his ACL and was put on IR but he was claimed by NE.??? So I guess a player can be lost but I don't know the rules.

These waiver/claim rules can be one really confusing thing.

08-28-2012, 02:19 PM
On the Steelers: DeCastro's injury not as severe as first feared

Teammates believe they will see him playing again before the season ends

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Steelers guard David DeCastro is set to have surgery on his knee and could return before the end of the season.

Not only was David DeCastro's knee injury not career-threatening, it also may not be season-threatening.

The prized rookie guard reported on crutches to the Steelers training facility Monday, his right knee in a heavy brace. He attended meetings with his teammates, left at lunchtime and is scheduled for surgery on his right knee Wednesday, according to coach Mike Tomlin.

He was upbeat and his teammates believe they will see him playing again before the season ends.

"It's sad, man, to see that happen," center Maurkice Pouncey said of DeCastro's injury, which occurred in the first quarter of Saturday night's game in Buffalo. "But it's a good thing it ain't season-ending. He'll be able to fight back toward the end of the year. He doesn't look down about it. He's accepted what happened and ready to move forward with it."

Pouncey said that after talking to DeCastro the best news was his ACL wasn't torn as first suspected. "That was major," he said.

Said Ramon Foster, who moves back to starting right guard because of the injury to DeCastro, "I definitely think he'll be back before long."

Tomlin said he would not talk about the injury or the avenue they will take with DeCastro until after the surgery. He appears ready to afford his first-round draft pick the Rod Woodson/Aaron Smith treatment.

Woodson's ACL was torn in the opener of the 1995 season. Instead of putting him on injured reserve, the Steelers kept him on the roster and the cornerback played in the Super Bowl. Tomlin did the same with Smith in 2010, but the defensive end could not make it back even though the Steelers reached the Super Bowl.

No matter what decision they make on DeCastro, Foster returns to right guard, where he has been for parts of the past two seasons.

"Ramon's solid, he's a great football player," said Pouncey said, who believes the line will still be in good shape. "We have the same guys we had the last two years here. It means a lot. That's the type of guys we have around here and the type of guys we want."

Assuming Max Starks will start the season at left tackle, left guard Willie Colon will be the only change in the line that mostly played last season. It also includes Marcus Gilbert, who started 14 games at right tackle as a rookie.

"That is a great SEC line right there," said Foster of the four starters who played college football in the Southeastern Conference. Only Colon did not, having played at Hofstra, which no longer has a football team.

"Willie doesn't have a football program right now, so he's definitely going to take the SEC. We've adopted him."


08-28-2012, 03:05 PM
Of course that is great news. Obviously, he will not be placed on IR which is a season ending move. [I think?]

But, in regards to the initial article. I was just getting ready to post that it was loaded with misleading info. I did considerable checking and as far as Jake Ballard goes he was not placed on IR. He early in June was waived/failed to pass physical[ESPN Transaction Wire] and NE claimed him. The Giants may have intended to place him on IR but then why did they not simply put him on IR immediately.??????

NE put him on the PUP list this week. A good gamble on NE's part, I suppose. He heals this season and they will have rights to him the next couple years.

But then I saw this from ESPN's transaction wire.

Placed LB A.J. Edds and G Ben Ijalana on injured reserve. WTH! He was not waived/injured, or waived/failed physical, or waived/ wtf's the difference any player waived can be claimed period. So how is it that if some team wants to gamble on him, let him heal this year and then they have the player for the next couple years.?

The Question is then--"Can a player be placed directly on the Injured Reserve list or not?

Today the Baltimore Ravens put 4 players on IR. [2 of the LB's] BS! If say for instance one of them was a JAMES FARRIOR calibre player, would you not be interested in acquiring that player? How is it that they can circumvent the waiver rule?

What I am asking really is In the event the Steelers had to or thought they had to put DD on the IR list was there any chance they could have lost him??

Does anyone really know how these very vague and inconclusive rules actually work?

08-28-2012, 04:23 PM
If you want to pay the player to sit a year because you decide the player's value is enough to eat the cost of his contract for the lost season (i.e. Willie Colon or Byron Leftwich last year), you just put him directly on IR. This is a true reserve list. Other teams cannot touch the player, he is still under contract through the end of the league year (for 1 yr contracts) or through the end of his contract (for multiyear contracts) and his salary for the current year is fully guaranteed but does not count against the 53 on the active roster for cap purposes.

If you are unwilling to pay the contract for the year because the player is a marginal type who can be easily replaced (i.e John Clay this year), then you place him on the waived-injured list and any team can claim him at which point they must add him to their active roster or IR the player themselves. Either way the claiming team is then responsible for his salary. If he passes through waivers unclaimed, then he becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team. If it happens before the start of the season, the original team is off the hook for salary.

Giants gambled that no one would claim Ballard and pay his full salary to sit him for the year. They lost the gamble. If they really wanted to keep him they should have IR'd him. Problem is you can't do that in June. IR isn't a viable option until camps offiically open at the end of July.

Basically they wanted a roster spot for another player --- who is eventually getting cut anyway -- and tried to sneak him through because the figured no one would claim an injured player. Dumb move on their part.

08-29-2012, 02:45 AM
TY DrCalculus: Got it.

08-29-2012, 03:11 AM
Steelers deal with loss of DeCastro

By F. Dale Lolley

PITTSBURGH - For the Steelers, the news about rookie guard David DeCastro’s knee injury is as good as can be expected.

DeCastro will have surgery Wednesday on his right knee, which he injured in the first quarter of Saturday night’s 38-7 preseason victory over the Buffalo Bills, and the Steelers are holding out hope that the rookie won’t be lost for the season.

DeCastro suffered a torn MCL and dislocated knee cap, but his ACL is believed to be intact. At this point, at least, there are no plans for the Steelers to place their first-round draft pick on injured reserve, which would end his season.

“He looks up(beat), but David doesn’t show too much,” said Ramon Foster, who will replace DeCastro as the starter at right guard. “I definitely think he’ll be back before long.”

Foster had opened training camp atop the depth chart at right guard, but DeCastro had played his way into the starting position.

“It’s not as big a blow as everybody is saying,” said Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. “Ramon started every game for us there last year. Everybody’s trying to make it seem like we don’t have anybody at all. I know (DeCastro) is a first-round draft pick and was playing at a high level and was starting, but we’ve got other guys who can play.”

Foster started one game at left guard and 13 at right guard for the Steelers in 2011. Since making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2009, he has appeared in 41 games, making 26 starts.

“It’s unfortunate that David got injured, but I’m the next man up,” Foster said. “It bumps me back into the starting lineup. It’s just good to be that guy. The more you can do,’ is one of coach Mike Tomlin’s main things, and it’s shown a lot lately, at least since I’ve been here and the other guys, too.”

For the Steelers, shuffling the offensive line is nothing new.

Injuries and ineffectiveness forced them to use nine different starting offensive line combinations in 2011. That was one fewer combination than they used in 2010.

Still, Tomlin said, it’s not easy for teammates to continually see guys get injured.

“Yeah, there’s a deflation,” Tomlin admitted. “The guy is injured, and you feel sorry for him on a personal level. Professionally, we understand that this is as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. So, we move on.”

In other news Monday, holdout wide receiver Mike Wallace had problems getting to Pittsburgh because of Tropical Storm Isaac. He was expected to arrive in Pittsburgh last night and will sign his $2.74 million tender offer from the team today.

Per NFL rules, Wallace will not be permitted to practice with the team until three days after he signs his contract.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him, even though he has to wait three days to practice,” said wide receiver Antonio Brown. “Hopefully, we can keep him after practice and run a couple sprints and get him on board and all hands on deck for this journey we’re about to embark on.”

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery (back), right tackle Marcus Gilbert (calf), defensive end Brett Keisel (ankle), running back Isaac Redman (ankle) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (ankle) did not practice Monday. The Steelers released 15 players Monday to trim their roster to 75. Released were Ryan Baker, defensive tackle Mike Blanc, wide receiver Paul Cox, cornerback Andre Freeman, kicker Daniel Hrapmann, linebacker Mortty Ivy (Waived/Injured List), offensive lineman Kyle Jolly, long snapper Matt Katula, tight end Jamie McCoy, cornerback Walter McFadden, tight end Justin Peelle, safety Myron Rolle, wide receiver Juamorris Stewart, defensive tackle Kade Weston and wide receiver Jimmy Young. The team will trim its roster to 53 following Thursday night’s game at Heinz Field against Carolina. The Steelers claimed running back DeJuan Harris off waivers from Jacksonville. Harris, a second-year player, had 42 yards on nine carries and returned 14 kickoffs for a 22.0-yard average in 2011.


08-29-2012, 07:16 AM
TY DrCalculus: Got it.

But, there are a couple questions. Both Colon and Leftwich had 4 or more years in the league. Would the same conditions apply to say a highly valued Mike Wallace who was only in the league for 3 years or any other highly valued 1st and/or 2nd year player? There is no way the Steelers would risk a Pouncey type on waivers.

If any valued player can be placed on IR with the conditions you outlined, then this is a closed case. No way then the Steelers would ever lose a valued player that way, just as they never lose valued players any other way.

If that is the case, good, I can now get on with the season and this distraction is over. Believe me, I hate this kind of stuff. But, when it comes up it has to be settled.

08-29-2012, 10:32 AM
He would have lost the whole season with an ACL, but I read that the anticipated rehab for this MCL injury is 3-5 months. If he lands on the quick-healing end of that spectrum (3 months), he'd be able to play all of our December games. If he's an average healer (4 months), he'd be good to go for the playoffs. If he's a slower healer (5 months), his only hope would be the Super Bowl.

08-30-2012, 01:05 AM
Situation of Steelers' top pick muddles roster
August 30, 2012 12:14 am

By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The knee injury to rookie guard David DeCastro is not as serious as first believed and it is possible he could return at some point this season. But it has made a tricky situation just a bit more precarious for the Steelers.

That's because DeCastro, the team's No. 1 pick, is the latest in a line of injured players who will impact the decisions made on the 53-man roster.

The Steelers have to cut their roster to 53 players on Friday or at any point after tonight's final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field. But they have several injured starters they will have to carry on the roster who won't be able to play for a couple more weeks -- or even longer.

DeCastro is one, or could be, pending the results of the surgery he had Wednesday on his injured right knee. (The Steelers did not release any update on the surgery.) Another is running back Rashard Mendenhall, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and is still waiting to practice.

Then there is inside linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, the top backup to Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons, He will be out two more weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament.

The situation gained a little more clarity Tuesday when Pro Bowl outside linebacker James Harrison (knee) and top backup Jason Worilds (wrist) were taken off the physically-unable-to-perform list. Both players are scheduled to return to practice Monday for the first time since the spring and, barring any setback, should play in the season opener in Denver.

And that doesn't even include nose tackle Casey Hampton, who hasn't played in a game since having ACL surgery in January. Hampton could play tonight. The team gets a roster exemption for tight end Weslye Saunders, who will serve a four-week suspension to begin the season for violating the league's banned substance policy.

"There's always a problem getting to that 53," coach Mike Tomlin said. "That is the challenge that is the National Football League. We understand it and embrace it, and I think our guys do as well."

It is possible the Steelers could elect to put DeCastro on injured reserve, ending his season. But, by carrying at least two players who will not play for a while, the Steelers might have to keep fewer players than usual at other positions. And one of those could be at quarterback, where veteran Charlie Batch might be the odd man out.

Batch, 37, is scheduled to get a lot of playing time against the Panthers, but the Steelers may not be in position to keep three quarterbacks -- something they have traditionally done because of the importance they place on the position. Byron Leftwich cemented his position as the backup to Ben Roethlisberger with an impressive showing last week in Buffalo, creating a situation where Batch could possibly be playing his final game with the Steelers tonight.

If the Steelers release Batch, a Homestead native and Steel Valley High School graduate, they will try to put Jarrod Johnson on the practice squad to give them a scout-team quarterback for practice. Of course, they could always release Batch and then re-sign him when the status of their injured players is much clearer.

"We've got some tough decisions to make," Tomlin said. "But if we do our job and they do their job, those decisions are always tough."
Battle at WR

The return of Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace means offensive coordinator Todd Haley needs to find only one player from his crop of rookies or free agents to be the No. 5 receiver.

Right now, the battle appears to be between David Gilreath, a first-year free agent from Wisconsin; and Derrick Williams, a third-year free agent from Penn State.

"We got a lot of guys still trying to make this team and we're still in the evaluation process for a lot of young guys fighting for their NFL lives right now," Haley said.

One player Haley does not need to evaluate is rookie running back Chris Rainey, who has two long touchdowns in the preseason and will be used as a situational player in the regular season.

"That's why they drafted me," said Rainey, a fifth-round pick from Florida who is listed at 5 feet 8, 178 pounds. "Everybody has always said small guys can't do anything and I keep proving them wrong

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/situation-of-steelers-top-pick-muddles-roster-651063/#ixzz250EoiklC

08-30-2012, 11:07 AM
Why not put DD on the regular season PUP? It doesn't sound like he will be available for 6 weeks anyway and I didn't think a PUP player counted against the 53 (or do I have that wrong?)

EDIT - Nevermind. I just read the other thread.

08-30-2012, 12:19 PM
Battle at WR

The return of Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace means offensive coordinator Todd Haley needs to find only one player from his crop of rookies or free agents to be the No. 5 receiver.

Right now, the battle appears to be between David Gilreath, a first-year free agent from Wisconsin; and Derrick Williams, a third-year free agent from Penn State.

"We got a lot of guys still trying to make this team and we're still in the evaluation process for a lot of young guys fighting for their NFL lives right now," Haley said.

One player Haley does not need to evaluate is rookie running back Chris Rainey, who has two long touchdowns in the preseason and will be used as a situational player in the regular season.

"That's why they drafted me," said Rainey, a fifth-round pick from Florida who is listed at 5 feet 8, 178 pounds. "Everybody has always said small guys can't do anything and I keep proving them wrong

I don't think we keep a 5th WR. Wallace, Brown, Sanders, Cotchery. Rainey counts as a RB, but he could be the de facto #5 receiver, since he will be used in the slot probably as often as he is used in the backfield. There is your extra roster spot saved to keep DeCastro off I.R.

08-31-2012, 04:18 PM
Any further timeline on a return for DD

08-31-2012, 05:38 PM
Any further timeline on a return for DD

8 weeks is what is being touted today

09-08-2012, 05:48 PM
Steelers O-line in good hands with Kugler

by John Dudley

Cursed? Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler wouldn't go that far.

But in two-plus seasons in Pittsburgh he has seen a string of starting linemen go down with significant injuries, most recently rookie guard David DeCastro, a first-round pick who suffered a torn knee ligament in a preseason game at Buffalo.

DeCastro's injury is devastating, considering that the Steelers expected him to step in and immediately solidify the right side of the offensive line. They even parted ways with veteran Chris Kemoeatu in March, leaving Ramon Foster as the only guard on the roster with meaningful experience at the position. (Willie Colon, the starter at left guard this season, has made all 51 of his career starts at tackle.)

But this isn't Kugler's first rodeo.

No sooner had he arrived in Pittsburgh than the Steelers lost Colon during the preseason to the first of what would become back-to-back season-ending injuries.

The patchwork quilt began to take shape from there.

Center Maurkice Pouncey, the team's 2010 first-round pick, went down at the most critical points of the past two seasons with injuries that kept him out of Super Bowl XLV and last year's AFC wild-card loss in Denver.

At one point last season, guard Trai Essex was forced to play center because Pouncey was out and backup Doug Legursky got hurt in a game against the St. Louis Rams.

It would be laughable if it weren't so frustrating for a team whose foundation rests on power running behind a rock-solid offensive line.

But the 46-year-old Kugler isn't whining. A Lockport, N.Y., native whose college offensive line coach at Texas-El Paso was Andy Reid and who once painted a mural of the Miners' mascot, Paydirt Pete, across the weight room wall, relishes the challenge of piecing together a unit each week, if that unit happens to be in pieces.

"The reason I like coaching the offensive line is I like coaching all five guys collectively,' Kugler said. "It's a challenge to get all five guys to play together as a unit, and I enjoy coaching the entire group."

Still, the net result of all the shifting has been a gradual decline in the Steelers' commitment to the run and a lot of beatings for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the $100 million investment who has been sacked 73 times over the past two seasons.

The Steelers have thrown more and more, in part because of the difficulty involved in establishing and maintaining a consistent running game with a revolving door of blockers and in part because the league, which has always worked in cycles, has cycled into a passing game again.

Not so long ago, the Steelers had the NFL's most feared ground attack. They ranked in the league's top 10 in rushing for four straight seasons from 2004-2007. But over the past four seasons, they've ranked 23rd, 19th, 11th and 14th.

No offensive line coach could have made lemonade with the lemons Kugler has been dealt over the past two seasons, but he has shown a no-excuses resiliency that has rubbed off on his players.

A big, tough guy with two big, tough sons who helped North Allegheny High School outside Pittsburgh win a PIAA title two years ago, Kugler has earned the respect of head coach Mike Tomlin -- he of the "next man up" philosophy -- and praise elsewhere in and near the Steelers locker room.

Former Steelers offensive lineman Craig Wolfley said last year that he believes Kugler deserves a great deal of the credit for the team's managing to reach the playoffs the past two years despite a string of catastrophic injuries up front.

"Number one, he's played the position," Wolfley said. "He brings an attitude. He celebrates the physical style of play. When their coach becomes someone that they want to be one of his guys, then you want to be that guy. If you see highlights on film of guys throwing guys down, you want to be the guy throwing guys down. He engenders a great sense of guys busting their humps for him."

Kugler, who arrived in Pittsburgh on the heels of coaching the Bills' offensive line, calls what he does "the greatest job in the world."

What he's managed to do on the job the past two seasons speaks of greatness, too.


09-08-2012, 05:50 PM
Thanks for posting the article Hawaiin. I always appreciate that.