The good news for the Steelers is that the knee injury to first-round pick David DeCastro wasn’t as serious as initially feared.
The bad news is it creates a complicated set of decisions for the team when it goes about picking a roster tomorrow.
“There’s always a problem getting to that 53,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That is the challenge that is the National Football League. We understand it and embrace it, and I think our guys do as well.”
DeCastro’s situation is one of several involving key players for the Steelers whose injuries could cause them to miss time. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has been activated from the physically unable to perform list, but hasn’t practiced after last year’s ACL tear. Inside linebacker Stevenson Sylvester is expected to miss two more weeks with a sprained MCL. Outside linebacker James Harrison (knee) and his backup Jason Worilds (wrist) were activated from the PUP list, and are expected to practice Monday. Nose tackle Casey Hampton hasn’t played since ACL surgery in January, but he could play tonight.
Keeping DeCastro on the 53 knowing he’ll still miss significant time would mean going short at another position.
That could cost veteran backup quarterback Charlie Batch a roster spot, at least for the short term, since Byron Leftwich is solid as the backup to Ben Roethlisberger.
“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.”
They’re also, in many cases, temporary.
DeCastro’s situation also emphasizes the need for a designation a step short of season-ending injured reserve, as was discussed by the league and the union but never agreed to.