Steelers should not be quick to rush David DeCastro back

Tommy Jaggi
Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro (66). Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro (66). Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting excellent play out of rookie offensive guard, Kevin Dotson. Here’s why it’s important not to rush David DeCastro back too soon.

The Steelers are 5-0 after putting a beating on the Cleveland Browns in Week 6. In addition to dominating on the defensive side of the ball, Pittsburgh was able to run all over their opponent. James Conner breached the 100-yard mark on the ground and averaged 5.1 yards per carry, while the Steelers were able to punch the ball in for scores 3 times on the ground.

They did all of this without the assistance of five-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro offensive guard David Decastro. Under normal circumstances, the Steelers would obviously want one of their best offensive players back on the field as soon as possible. Luckily, Pittsburgh doesn’t have to operate under normal circumstances right now.

Fourth-round rookie offensive guard, Kevin Dotson, was a longshot to see the football field as an offensive starter in his rookie season. The team had made a decision to kick Matt Feiler inside this year to start at left guard, and the Steelers signed long-time veteran, Stefen Wisniewski in free agency.

However, a pair of injuries to Pittsburgh’s interior offensive line forced Dotson into the game at in his first-ever NFL performance. Though the rookie may have earned just 6 offensive snaps against the New York Giants to begin his career, we have since gotten a very good look at him – and what we have seen so far has been thoroughly impressive.

Steelers need to think twice before letting DeCastro suit up

In the run game, Dotson has been snowplow – clearing debris and creating smooth running lanes with ease. This was particularly on display in what should have been a challenging matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 5. But instead of folding under the pressure, Dotson rose to the occasion. He manhandled $30 million worth of interior defenders in Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. In comparison, the last time DeCastro played the Eagles, he had quite possibly the worst game of his career against Cox.

In the passing game, Dotson has been perhaps even more impressive. According to Pro Football Focus, the rookie out of Louisiana Lafayette has earned a pass block grade of 88.9 so far this season – 1st among all NFL guards so far this season.

Obviously, David DeCastro is not in jeopardy of losing his job anytime soon, and we will welcome him back with open arms when he is fully healthy. However, with as good as Dotson is playing, I see no reason to rush the former All-Pro back this week – even in an all-important game against an undefeated Tennessee Titans team.

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I know it’s still very early in his career, but I am convinced that Kevin Dotson is going to be a long-time starter for this team. The Steelers are legitimate contenders in 2020, and they will need DeCastro fully healthy late in the season. With Dotson continuing to impress, I see no reason for the Steelers to rush DeCastro back this week against the Titans.