Training camp is usually good for at least one significant injury per year, or at least one good scare. This year, rookie offensive lineman Kevin Dotson had the big injury scare, yet he was able to get back out on the field by the end of training camp, get back in pads, and even show up and play well against some veteran talent.
The fourth-round small-school prospect went down with a knee injury in the middle of training camp, and that sidelined him for a while. But he was able to get himself ramping back up by the time the Pittsburgh Steelers held their scrimmage practice on Friday.
Considering how serious it appeared it might have been—quarterback Ben Roethlisberger even came over and helped him off the field—that was a very rapid turnaround. We’ve seen similar injury scares, such as a worse one for Ramon Foster a couple of years ago, but Dotson is a guy who can’t afford to miss time. And he wasn’t sure what to think at the beginning.
“When it first happened, I was like truly scared just off of the initial pain”, he told reporters. “But after I started walking and started kind of getting a little better, so I kind of eased my mind a little bit”. He chose to take his time and gather himself and ultimately walk off the field under his own power rather than be carted off. That was also a burdened lifted off of him mentally. Then getting back on the field was big.
“Getting in the game definitely was something I really wanted to do”, he said of Friday’s scrimmage. “Wanted to make my impact, get seen, just because if you know me or my dad, you know that I’m not a person to sit out for a long time. I feel like if I sit out that people start to think that you’re soft or that you don’t want to really work or you don’t want to be out there. And it was kind of my proving time. And then the fact that I got to go in there with the ones was just an added bonus”.
David DeCastro has been missing time, and Maurkice Pouncey also sat out a bit for personal reasons, giving Dotson the opportunity to climb up and play at guard, with Stefen Wisniewski playing center. Going from a possible serious knee injury to lining up with the ones is a big swing on the pendulum of fate.
That said, it doesn’t substantially change the prospects for his rookie season. He’s not likely to see playing time unless there are injuries, because he is not a top backup—which would be Wisniewski. The chance remains, however, under the new rule, which allows teams without penalty to dress an eight lineman, so he figures to be available for participation.