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."
The whereabouts of Mike Wallace has almost turned into a Where's Waldo segment, but his teammates insist the Pro Bowl wide receiver is in Pittsburgh and will be at club headquarters today.
"He's coming in," said cornerback Keenan Lewis, Wallace's pal and high school teammate. "He'll be ready, he'll be ready to go."
By rule, Wallace cannot play or practice until three days after he signs, which would be the $2.7 million one-year contract the Steelers have had waiting for him since March. One theory has it he wanted to wait until after 4 p.m. Monday so there would be no way he could play in Thursday night's game.
"I think he's happy to get back and finally get into the football mindset and picking up the playbook," said Emmanuel Sanders, who has been playing at split end in Wallace's absence.
"It's exciting," Antonio Brown said. "It's special to be here. He definitely knows that. He appreciates everything. He's decided to get back, to get ready to get back at work, to get ready to embark on a championship."
Brown, asked about Wallace's possible disposition since he did not get the multiple-year contract he wanted from the Steelers, said, "That's life." He believes Wallace will approach things with the proper attitude, though.
"He'll come back and put it all on the line."
Tomlin said he has not talked to Wallace and has no expectations about his arrival.
"I'll deal with Mike Wallace when he gets here."
Casey Hampton took some snaps with the first-team defense and wants to do it again in Thursday night's preseason finale against Carolina at Heinz Field.
"We'll see if I can," said Hampton, who had surgery in January to repair his torn ACL. "If I can, I definitely want to get a couple before the season starts. You always want to get some full-speed work before you go out there."
Hampton came off the physically unable to perform list Aug. 17.
"He's got a chance," Tomlin said after practice. "We'll see. I know he did some good things out there today. It's a short process this week. Hopefully, he can represent himself well enough where he can get an opportunity to get some snaps."
The Steelers waived 15 players to reach the mandatory NFL roster limit of 75 Monday. Among those let go were rookie kicker Daniel Hrapmann.
Hrapmann's release means the Steelers will stick with veteran kicker Shaun Suisham. Also waived was Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle, a safety. Linebacker Mortty Ivy, a Monroeville native and Gateway High School graduate, was waived injured.
The others waived: linebacker Ryan Baker, defensive tackle Mike Blanc, wide receiver Paul Cox, cornerback Andre Freeman, long snapper Matt Katula, tight end Jamie McCoy, cornerback Walter McFadden, tight end Justin Peelle, offensive lineman Kyle Jolly, wide receiver Juamorris Stewart, defensive tackle Kade Weston and wide receiver Jimmy Young.
Teams must reach the 53-man roster limit by 9 p.m. Friday.
Traditionally, Steelers veteran starters play little if at all in the final preseason game. Because it's also a short week, those who did not practice Monday because of minor injuries could be held out Thursday night. They include Jerricho Cotchery (sore back), Marcus Gilbert (sore calf), Brett Keisel (ankle injury), Isaac Redman (ankle injury) and LaMarr Woodley (sore back).
Because of injuries in their backfield, the Steelers claimed DuJuan Harris, cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars over the weekend, off waivers. Harris played in five games during his rookie season in 2011. He had 42 yards rushing on nine carries, one catch for 4 yards and 14 kickoff returns for 308 yards. The Jaguars signed him as a free agent rookie last year from Troy University.
First Published August 28, 2012 4:00 AM