Steelers' top two draft picks start 'process' at last
Steelers No. 1 pick David DeCastro works on his first day in uniform.
David DeCastro at minicamp.
David DeCastro gets instruction from Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler.
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The Steelers saw the future of their offensive line on the football field for the first time Tuesday, even if it was a little disjointed. That might soon change.
Their top two draft choices -- guard David DeCastro and tackle Michael Adams -- finally got to join their new teammates after being forced to miss all offseason training activities. They will spend the next two days of the three-day minicamp getting to know the veteran players in the locker room and hoping to make a bigger impression on the coaching staff.
"I'm so happy to get here with these guys," said Adams, a second-round choice from Ohio State. "I kind of checked out of school a while ago. I just wanted to be here, be back with my team."
DeCastro, their No. 1 pick from Stanford, and Adams might be future starters on the offensive line, perhaps as early as training camp. But they began minicamp with the second team.
DeCastro lined up at right guard -- the position he likely will man with the first team when the regular season begins Sept. 9 in Denver. Adams lined up at left tackle -- a position currently manned by Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers' No. 2 draft choice last year who started 15 games at right tackle as a rookie.
"That's why you play the game," DeCastro said about being a starter. "I don't think anyone in this room wants to be a bench-warmer."
Neither could participate in the voluntary OTAs because NFL rules prohibit attendance from players whose college classes haven't graduated. But DeCastro and Adams were given a playbook and video of the new offense under Todd Haley to better prepare them for minicamp.
"I was as well prepared as I could have been," DeCastro said.
The Steelers opened minicamp with Gilbert at left tackle, Willie Colon at left guard, Maurkice Pouncey at center, Ramon Foster at right guard and veteran Trai Essex at tackle. But coach Mike Tomlin could change the rotation today on the second day of minicamp, hinting that he could move up DeCastro and/or Adams to work with the first team.
"It will be a process," Tomlin said. "We're going to do things to put them in situations to see how they respond. I wouldn't read into it, particularly football in shorts. We're going to put them in situations against good people just for exposure and learn more about them. That's down the line when you start reading into what group they're taking snaps with. That's going to be more of a Latrobe type of thing."
Then Tomlin added, "I'm comfortable with where they are and what they were able to display today. They're working on limited time. They need to hurry up to catch up."
The Steelers admittedly are taking a chance on Adams, who grew up in Farrell but attended high school in Dublin, Ohio. His draft stock dropped after he tested positive for marijuana at the scouting combine and subsequently lied about it to NFL coaches and general managers.
But the Steelers took him in the second round after he met with Tomlin, president Art Rooney II and general manager Kevin Colbert in March -- a meeting at which he bared his soul and promised to do whatever necessary to convince them he is not an at-risk pick.
"I take things one day at a time," he said between two-a-day practices on the South Side. "If I do the right things, day in and day out, I think I will be in the right place."
And what is the right place?
"For me, win Super Bowls with this team," Adams said. "The personal goal I have is to be All-Pro a few times before I retire."
Last year, Gilbert started 15 games at right tackle after Colon tore his tricep tendon in the opener in Baltimore, ending his season. Gilbert, though, got off to a slow start in training camp because he reported overweight and didn't have the benefit of OTAs and minicamp because of the lockout.
"I didn't know anything," Gilbert said. "I came into training camp not knowing what's going on. I had a little help from Maurkice [Pouncey] because he was my friend, but I didn't get the whole understanding of the offense. I didn't get a playbook, I didn't get to work with the weight staff, I didn't get the feel of being around the guys till training camp. I didn't know who was willing to work with me."
Gilbert said he already could tell the difference in DeCastro and Adams.
"Coach was giving out a verbal test in meetings, and they were shooting out all the right answers. You could tell they were doing their studying. You could tell these guys wanted to come in and work and try to compete for a job."
First Published June 13, 2012 12:00 am