The Steelers will be playing with a 52-card deck for much of the 2012 season.
The 53rd roster spot will belong to guard David DeCastro. The first-round pick tore up his knee on Saturday night; he’ll have surgery this week.
The Steelers won’t be putting him on injured reserve, for now. “Fortunately, he’s not done for the year,” Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler told Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “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].”
It was still pretty devastating. Torn MCL. Dislocated kneecap. Damage to the patellar tendon. Surgery.
“I think David will be back this year, and he’s intent on doing that; I know that,” Kugler said.
The Steelers can put DeCastro on IR at any time, if the team changes its mind about saving a roster spot for him. Often, those decisions are driven by need. If another key player suffers a short-term injury and the Steelers need to sign another player for depth at that position, DeCastro could be bumped to injured reserve.
Until then, DeCastro will have company. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has been activated from the PUP list, which means he’ll consume a roster spot until he has sufficiently healed from a torn ACL. And unless the team wants to be without linebacker James Harrison for at least the first six weeks of the season, the Steelers will need to activate Harrison from the PUP list by Friday and sit him until he’s ready to go.
Until DeCastro returns, Ramon Foster will move into the starting lineup. DeCastro would have been only the fourth rookie to start on the offensive line in franchise history.
At one point, it appeared that the Steelers would start two rookies on the offensive line, but second-round pick Mike Adams currently is on track to be on the bench when the Steelers go to Denver on September 9.