Few expected any the Steelers rookies to be designated as starters nine days into training camp. That's just not the organization's way.
Even if a first-year player wows coaches and distinguishes himself immediately upon stepping onto an NFL practice field (see Pouncey, Maurkice, 2010), Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin likes to make him earn his playing time or status as a first-teamer.
This season, first- and second-round picks David DeCastro and Mike Adams are no different. But although each was expected to compete for a starting job (DeCastro at right guard, Adams at left tackle), neither has shown enough to seize one during camp's early going.
DeCastro, in particular, was (and still is) viewed as a somewhat heavy favorite to be in Pittsburgh's starting lineup Sept. 9 at Denver. But some mediocre workouts -- he's been beaten in blocking drills, including several times by third-year pro Al Woods -- haven't impressed.
"A lot of things I want to work on," DeCastro said. "It's a little different game with the athletes up here. It's the NFL, so I've got to keep working."
Pouncey, Pittsburgh's starting center, joked that teammates call DeCastro "Mr. Personality" for his quiet, serious demeanor. Although Adams seems a little more lighthearted, he also is not overly outgoing.
Adams was projected to be a first-round pick until he failed a drug test at the NFL Combine. After he was drafted, the Steelers moved Willie Colon from tackle to guard, seemingly clearing the way for Adams.
But the team re-signed veteran Max Starks just before camp started. The organization waited so long partially because it wanted to see how Starks' rehabilitation was going from a January torn ACL. But the Steelers' brass also likely wanted insurance in case Adams wasn't ready.
Starks remains on the PUP list, but Adams has been running behind journeyman veteran Trai Essex at left tackle -- though Adams, like DeCastro, has been rotated in with the first team at times.
"Having a guy like Max is priceless to my development. Max is a guy who's been doing it for a long time at a high level, so just to have him here to help me is something I'm really grateful for."