PITTSBURGH – Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had no update Monday on injured guard David DeCastro, other than the first-round draft pick will have knee surgery Wednesday and that Tomlin will update the local media Thursday night after the team’s final preseason game.
DeCastro was carted off the field Saturday night in Buffalo where he reportedly tore the MCL in his right knee, dislocated his kneecap, and suffered damage to his patellar tendon.
It all sounds serious, but reports are circulating the Steelers will not put DeCastro on the season-ending injured reserve list when final cuts are made Friday.
Tomlin, though, was not asked about the IR yesterday. Reporters seemed more interested in the pending return of holdout Mike Wallace, whom teammates say will report to the South Side today to begin preparations for the Sept. 9 opener in Denver. But Tomlin didn’t want to hear about it.
“I’ll deal with Mike Wallace when he gets here,” said Tomlin. “I don’t go by what I hear. I go by what I see. When I see him then I’ll address those issues.”
Tomlin was asked to assess Wallace’s value to the offense.
“Guys, I’m not talking about Mike Wallace until he gets here,” Tomlin said. “I’m focused on the ones that are here and working. Anybody got any questions about anybody here working?”
Perhaps the Steelers’ best roster battle is being waged on the defensive line between ends Corbin Bryant and Al Woods.
In his five previous seasons, Tomlin kept six defensive linemen in 2007 and 2010, and seven defensive linemen the other three seasons.
If Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Steve McLendon, Casey Hampton, Cameron Heyward and fourth-round pick Alameda Ta’amu all make the team, as expected, Bryant and Woods are fighting for a seventh spot. And they’re playing so well Tomlin could justify keeping eight.
“I definitely feel a lot more confident than last year,” said Bryant, who spent last season on the practice squad and was even one the active roster for a week.
“I feel I’ve gotten a lot stronger, got a better understanding of the scheme, and so of course I’m going to play a lot better,” he said.
Weighing the same 305 he did two years ago at Northwestern, Bryant is a bit more active than Woods with four tackles, a sack and two QB hits this preseason. Bryant entered the last game early in the third quarter. Woods entered the last game one series later than Bryant, and on the second snap Woods sacked Vince Young – although it was wiped out by a preferred offensive holding penalty.
For the preseason, Woods has one quarterback hit and an interception that he nearly returned for a touchdown.
“This year I just feel like I’m better in a lot more areas,” said Woods, a third-year vet who has never made a team out of training camp. He has taken regular-season snaps with both Tampa Bay and New Orleans.
“I feel I’ve got a great grasp of the playbook,” he said. “When I get out there I’m feeling really confident. I’m not second-guessing myself when they call a certain play. So I feel I can just go out there and show them what I can do.”
Missing practice yesterday with minor injuries were WR Jerricho Cotchery (back), RT Marcus Gilbert (calf), DE Brett Keisel (ankle), RB Isaac Redman (ankle) and OLB LaMarr Woodley (back).
In the more serious injuries, OLB Jason Worilds (wrist/PUP) maintains he is still “day to day” and doesn’t know if he’ll remain on the PUP list for the first six weeks of the season.
ILB Stevenson Sylvester was also mum about his knee injury and could miss the opener.
NT Casey Hampton returned to practice for the first time and moved around very gingerly as he attempts to recover from a torn ACL in the playoff game.
LT Max Starks said of his recovery from Saturday night’s game: “I’m feeling OK. It definitely felt like the first game, but for the most part I came out feeling pretty good.”
NEW RUNNING BACK
The Steelers claimed running back DuJuan Harris off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Harris (5-7, 196, 4.48) saw action in five games during his rookie season in 2011. He finished with 42 yards rushing on 9 carries, and added 1 reception for 4 yards. Harris also returned 14 kickoffs for 308 yards (22.0 avg.)
Harris originally signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Troy University. Here’s what Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly wrote about hims prior to the 2011 draft: “Built low to the ground, runs with balance and is tough to tackle. ... Good hands. Has a 38-inch vertical jump ... Does not pull away from the pack when he gets in the clear. ... Shows enough quickness, burst, elusiveness and receiving skills to compete for a reserve job if he's able to contribute on special teams.”