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Happy to have their 'leader' stay

Posted Jan 26, 2018

While the offensive line wanted the best for Mike Munchak, they are happy he is staying.

Staying put: It’s no secret the offensive linemen love coach Mike Munchak, and all of them wished him the best when he became a candidate for the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job. But last week Munchak withdrew his name from consideration, stating this wasn’t the right time for his family and that he is happy to remain with the Steelers. He isn’t the only one who is happy he is staying put.

“It’s huge. I am really glad,” said DeCastro. “Since he has been here we have all been playing pretty well as a group. I hope I can play the rest of my years out with the Steelers with him.”

Alejandro Villanueva has said many times that his game has flourished under Munchak's coaching, and he can't say enough good things about him.

“He’s proven not only to be a great leader, a great mentor, a great person, and a great role model to every single person in this building, but he has also proven that he is very good at football, X’s and O’s, leadership and maintaining a very high standard,” said Villanueva. “Those things are very hard to do in the NFL.”

Top notch: And since we are on the offensive line, happy to share this bit of news.

Offensive linemen don’t have the stats that the skill players can brag about, but Pro Football Focus (PFF) is one site that grades out every lineman in the NFL based on every snap.

And who topped the rating this year? None other than DeCastro.

DeCastro won PFF Bruce Matthews Award, given to the NFL’s best offensive lineman. He finished the season as the No. 1 ranked guard with a grade of 92.5, and didn’t allow a sack all season while playing all 1,047 regular season snaps.

David DeCastro has shown me how to be a professional,” said Villanueva. “I have a lot of respect for who he is as a person. I trust his judgement. I am fortunate to have him as a close friend.

“From a professional standpoint the way he approaches the game, he is probably the most ambitious and goal-related player I have met,” said Villanueva. “He is somebody that doesn’t cut any corners. He is always focused on the task at hand. He has no priorities other than getting better. His humble approach to the game has rubbed off on me. For me to learn how to play from someone like David DeCastro is an honor and a privilege.”

On the run: The Steelers defense set a record for most sacks in a season with 56, with Cameron Heyward leading the way with 12 of his own. But there are areas where Heyward knows they need to improve. The defense finished the 2017 season ranked third overall, but were 20th against the run, and that is something they need to focus on.

“I know the sacks were there, but we have to clean up the rushing game as a defense,” said Heyward. “I am looking forward to next year. We have a lot of guys returning. A lot of guys that are going to come back in better shape, be more experienced.” 

He’s the Mann: Receivers coach Richard Mann retired last week, after 33 years as an NFL assistant coach, including five with the Steelers. Mann will be coaching his last game on Sunday as part of the Steelers staff who are coaching the AFC squad at the Pro Bowl.

Mann had a huge impact on every player he worked with, including JuJu Smith-Schuster.

“That dude is one of the best coaches I have been around,” said Smith-Schuster. “He has helped me so much, even with stuff off the field. He has taught me a lot. He can just relate.” 

What's happening: And speaking of the Pro Bowl, here is a look at what is happening in Orlando, Florida, where nine players and the team's coaching staff are this week. From Ben Roethlisberger's cleats, to Heyward's normal Friday look.

Collared Shirt Friday’s! Probowl edition! Business Friday! #probowl

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