The Pittsburgh Steelers have already had seven different offensive linemen start a game this season, and at least an eighth will be inevitable once David DeCastro gets into the starting lineup. Hopefully nobody like Jerald Hawkins, Derwin Gray, or J.C. Hassenauer will be pressed into duty; however, those who have been called on to play so far have done a sufficient job.
Head coach Mike Tomlin earlier today already gave his kudos to Kevin Dotson, the rookie making his first career start, and the man he was protecting, Ben Roethlisberger, also did the same in his post-game remarks earlier this evening.
“We were excited for him”, he said of the team’s reaction to his opportunity. “The young man grew up a Steeler fan. He told me his dad watches it in his man cave upstairs and won’t let anyone bother him. I was just so happy that he got out there and got to play. I gave him the ball afterwards and told him to give it to his old man. I’m just really thankful for him, and for both those guys, and the whole line altogether”.
I wonder if this is the first time that the Steelers have ever given a game ball to somebody’s parent. But really, just take a moment to imagine this day for Dotson’s father, watching your own son grow up to be a starter for your team. That probably doesn’t happen often enough. You can see the game ball here:
It’s been a great week 💛🖤💛🖤 pic.twitter.com/bAenfmwH6L
— 6IG 9ASTY (@kdd7696) September 20, 2020
Of course, Dotson wasn’t the only new face in the lineup, and we’ll hopefully be seeing Chukwuma Okorafor for the next 14-plus games as well, as he is the team’s starting right tackle after Zach Banner tore his ACL in the opener. Roethlisberger expressed his confidence in the duo generally.
“I had confidence coming in that they would” be up to the task, he said. “Those guys put the time and the effort in. Obviously, we knew that Chuks was a guy that was battling with Banner for the chance to start this year, so we know what he’s capable of doing. He’s played in the past for us”.
Okorafor is a third-year former third-round draft choice, who made one start in each of his first two seasons. Banner did beat him out for the right to start at right tackle this year, but those close to the competition claim that it was close, and now Okorafor will be given the opportunity to lock it down.
As for Dotson, what comes next for him? With Matt Feiler an unrestricted free agent in 2021, he may well be auditioning for a starting job by year two. No doubt the Steelers had that possibility in mind when they draft him, but surely they didn’t think he would be starting in Week Two. And as long as he performs, he’ll likely continue to start until DeCastro is back.