It didn’t take draft day to make Kevin Dotson a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. He was already in the Nation long before he was issued an official jersey with his name on the back. That certainly must be an interesting experience that I’m sure many of us have imagined a time or two ourselves.
Now imagine being a Steelers offensive lineman going up against Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt in practice, because that’s what the rookie fourth-round pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette has on his plate during training camp this year, and what he will see throughout his practice reps in-season.
Though he spent a good deal of camp overcoming an early injury scare, Dotson has been back on the field in full pads lately going at it, and he was interviewed following today’s practice about what his rookie year has been like so far, from being drafted to the injury, and to going up against the likes of those the Steelers boast along their defensive line.
“It’s given me a lot of confidence, because I feel like I can hold my own against them”, he said of going up against veterans like Heyward and Tuitt in practice. I know that’s quality competition, and if I can hold up against them, I can hold up against a lot of people, and I feel like it’s been helping me a lot in my confidence in how I play and how hard I can go”.
For the time being, Dotson is shaping up to be the Steelers’ number eight lineman on the 53-man roster, and possibly the final lineman to make the cut, though that can change. While he has talked about working on his own at center, to the best of our knowledge, he has been limited to guard in training camp.
The starting lineup is largely set, with Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler, Maurkice Pouncey, and David DeCastro going from left to right, and Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor facing off at right tackle. The one who fails to win the starting job will serve as the swing tackle, and veteran free agent signing Stefen Wisniewski will operate as the swing interior reserve.
With this year’s new rules changes, Dotson would still be able to dress as an eighth lineman without taking a gameday helmet away from another play. The rule stipulates that a team with an eighth lineman may choose to dress him as an additional player, similar to the third quarterback rule that previously existed.
Still, barring injury, it’s hard to envision his finding many opportunities to get on the field this season. The Steelers have a pretty stout front seven, at least on paper. It’s possible that he may develop into a starter in the future, but that won’t be asked of him at this time.