Big Week Ahead for Absent Rookies

Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler told Mike Prisuta about his plan next week for first and second-round picks David DeCastro and Mike Adams.

PITTSBURGH -- There remains uncertainty up front, but if Sean Kugler has anything to say about it the Steelers will have gone a long way toward resolving it by the conclusion of minicamp.

"Next week we're going to have to get guys in positions," offensive line coach Sean Kugler stressed on Wednesday following scheduled OTA No. 9. "Ideally, when we get to training camp we want guys in set positions so they can focus in on what they need to do.

"The best guys are going to play at their set positions. It's not going to be a rotational thing or anything like that."

In other words, the three-day tryouts for David DeCastro and Mike Adams begin on Tuesday.

Those are the guys, along with nose tackle Alameda "County Coliseum" Ta'amu, who haven't been attending the OTAs because of academic restrictions.

They will nonetheless get an opportunity to state their cases as starters in minicamp, Adams at left tackle and DeCastro at right guard.

"I'm going to give those guys a lot of work," Kugler announced. "Normally, nobody comes in and is handed a job and that's not going to be the case. Those guys have to earn jobs, but they are going to get a lot of quality work with the 1s (the first-team offense).

"There's a little hindrance because these guys haven't been here. We gotta evaluate 'em thoroughly and get 'em in their best positions. When we come out next week Adams is going to start at left (tackle), that's his natural position, and DeCastro's going to be at right (guard). And they'll be rotating in with the 1s and 2s.

"They're going to get multiple reps next week so we can see what they can do."

Clearly, that's not the starting point simply because you have to start somewhere.

Clearly, the goal is for Adams to be the left tackle, DeCastro the right guard and Marcus Gilbert the right tackle.

But just in case it doesn't work out that way the Steelers are taking steps to ensure there are alternate plans available.

That would explain Gilbert's presence at left tackle last week and this week and why Adams will see time at right tackle next week.

"Marcus Gilbert's been working at left and right (tackle), as we will do with Mike Adams," Kugler confirmed. "Again, 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 (tackle).' We moved him in there now. He's working at right (tackle), as well. Marcus did an excellent job last year at right. He's left-tackle capable. We're going to get the best five guys out there."

It should be one heck of an interesting minicamp.

To make the most of it DeCastro and Adams will have to overcome not having been here for OTAs. But while acknowledging the "hindrance" that has become, Kugler also maintained the lines of communication have been open to Palo Alto, Calif., and to Columbus, Ohio. DeCastro and Adams, Kugler insisted, have been doing a "great job" from afar.

"They've been communicating with us," he said. "They have all of our cut-ups (video). They've been going through the installs just as we would go through it here in Pittsburgh; they're just not here.

"They've been writing down questions, giving me a call every night and going through those questions. They can't b.s. their way through it because to ask the type of questions they've been asking shows me they're going through their stuff."

Next week it'll be time for DeCastro and Adams to provide answers.

And they'll have to do so again in pads at St. Vincent College along the way to becoming starters.

But their freshman NFL status won't be held against them toward that end.

"If they're the best guys they're going to play," Kugler insisted. "I don't have a fear of starting rookies if they're ready. If they're ready they'll play. If they're not they won't."


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