DeCastro: Lack Of OTAs, Preseason For O-Line Group Only Hurts Rookie Dotson

The coronavirus pandemic managed to wipe out the entire NFL offseason programs as well as the preseason. On top of that, training camps are much different this year and they’ll include just 14 padded practices at the most. Even so, Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro doesn’t see that as an excessively big deal in the grand scheme of things when it comes to his team’s offensive line group.

“Yeah, I like it,” DeCastro said Monday during his media session on Zoom. “I think this whole thing for us as an o-line, just the pandemic and the shortened training camp, I think it is beneficial, just because we’re a veteran group. And even though Matt’s [Matt Feiler] moving to left guard, he’s gotten snaps before, game snaps. He’s played that position a lot. He’s bounced around before. And you got guys in [Zach] Banner and Chuks [Chukwuma Okorafor], who’ve had game time experience as well. So, I think it bodes well for us.”

Even though the Steelers did add an offensive lineman this offseason in free agency in veteran Stefen Wisniewski, him being in the NFL since 2011 should make his transition to the Steelers a piece of cake and thus not having OTAs or preseason games shouldn’t affect him much, if any. Even a few of the Steelers backup offensive linemen currently on the roster, Derwin Gray and J.C. Hassenauer, aren’t new to the NFL and both spent time on the team’s practice squad last season.

The Steelers, however, did draft an offensive lineman this year in Kevin Dotson out Louisiana Lafayette and while he did start extensively in college, 52 consecutive games to be exact, DeCastro admitted on Monday that the lack of offseason practices and preseason games would make his transition to the NFL tougher than it usually is for a young offensive lineman.

“Yeah, it’s really hard for rookie, DeCastro said about Dotson coming in as a rookie this offseason. “I remember my rookie year, there’s a lot. I came in late to the OTAs because of some weird college eligibility rule, but, yeah, it doesn’t help, that’s for sure. A guy coming in, it’s a different game, learning the scheme, the system and getting those reps, it’s hard. It’s definitely an uphill battle, but all the rookies are going through it. He’ll get some good reps in training camp and it is what it is. Yeah, it’s not easy, that’s for sure, not your rookie year.”

Barring a few injuries, Dotson isn’t likely to be counted on to play much as a rookie in 2020 so there’s that. Overall, DeCastro has a solid point about the offensive line probably not missing out on there not being any offseason practices or preseason games this year. The team will have up to 14 padded practices starting one week from today and with five full weeks remaining until the team’s first regular season game of 2020, there’s plenty of time for the Steelers veteran offensive line group to get themselves properly ready.

“Yeah, I think would be positive for us just because we’re a veteran team,” DeCastro said. “I mean, honestly, I think the training camp and a lot of those preseason games are for younger guys. I mean, I don’t think it takes necessarily much for us to get in shape as a veteran group, but I think the older you get that less is kind of more just because you don’t need that pounding on your body. So, I think it bodes well for us, offensive and defensive wise. We’ve got some good depth, too. And yeah, I’m actually excited about that.”

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