Owing to an NFL rule preventing draftees from joining their teams until their collegiate coursework is completed, Steelers first- and second-round picks David DeCastro and Mike Adams haven't attended organized team activities while they wind down their academic careers on campuses in Palo Alto, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio, respectively.
That hasn't kept new homework from Pittsburgh from coming in. And unlike a college gut course, offensive line coach Sean Kugler said "they can't BS their way through it."
Kugler said Wednesday that the two linemen were outfitted with laptops with the team's playbook and corresponding video and have been sent weekly updates as more of the offense is installed. They'll join the team next week, but they also have been studying their materials and asking Kugler questions during nightly phone calls.
"Those guys have been doing a great job communicating with us," Kugler said. "To ask the types of questions that they're asking shows me that they're looking at their stuff."
When they arrive, Kugler said that they'll run with first offense -- DeCastro at right guard and Adams at left tackle.
"Those guys have a lot of catch-up work to do, so I'm going to give those guys a lot of work. Nobody just comes in and is handed a job," Kugler said, but conceded that two rookie starters on the offensive line is not out of the question.
"If they're the best guys, they're going to play. I don't have a fear of starting rookies if they're ready. If they're ready, they'll play. If they're not ready, they won't."
Kugler is bullish on Willie Colon's potential. Colon this offseason moved to left guard after playing the first six years of his career at right tackle.
"Willie's doing an excellent job in there. He's really full force. He's sold on being a guard and that's the main thing. If he was reluctant and didn't want to be a guard, it wouldn't work," Kugler said, adding that Colon's physical stature suits him to the position.
"He's got excellent strength. He's got good pulling potential that you really can't utilize at tackle, that you can really utilize at guard. The way that we run our offense he would be a perfect fit right there."
He added that Colon will be an asset against the schemes run by AFC North defenses.
"[In] our division ... you're matched up with guys covered on the guards. Willie's got the strength and the ability to match up with those guys inside. ... I think he's going to be an excellent guard and he's only going to benefit us up front."
• Before the draft, Marcus Gilbert was slated to move from right tackle to left, but that plan is on hold until the Steelers can evaluate Adams, a natural left tackle. During OTAs, Gilbert has worked at both tackle spots, and Kugler said Adams will, too.
"The best guys are going to play at their set positions. It's not going to be a rotational thing or anything like that. I would hate to have to say to Marcus Gilbert halfway through training camp 'oh, by the way -- move to left.' "
• Two-time Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey is fully recovered from nagging ankle injuries that kept him out of two games late last season and the Steelers' playoff loss to Denver, Kugler said.
"This has been his best offseason since he's been here. I'm excited to watch Maurkice Pouncey play this year."
• Kugler said the transition to a new offense has been relatively painless for the line.
"There's terminology changes -- how they hear formations and stuff like that. But all in all [with] the line calls and those things, we've tried to remain consistent."
Dan Gigler: email@example.com, 412-263-1884 and Twitter @ gigs2312. First Published June 7, 2012 12:00 AM