Who would have thought that the Pittsburgh Steelers would already be getting meaningful and valuable contributions from three members of their rookie class—a rookie class in which their earliest pick was 49th overall, and they had just one selection in the top 100?
Oh yeah, and that’s not to mention the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic decimated the offseason, forcing teams to try to get by with virtual meetings through rookie minicamp, OTAs, and minicamp, and even in training camp, they had only 14 padded practices—plus no preseason.
When Kevin Dotson, the second of two fourth-round picks, an offensive guard out of Louisiana-Lafayette who was not even invited to the Combine, took the field for yesterday’s game, he did so having only had a couple of snaps under his belt after filling for a few snaps in the opener after Stefen Wisniewski’s injury.
According to Pro Football Focus, however, he acquitted himself very well in the area that, frankly, matters most. In a ‘ReFocused’ article breaking down some details of the game, Michael Renner notes that Dotson did not allow a single pressure in pass protection over 42 snaps serving as a pass blocker.
Not bad for a third-string rookie guard in the second game of his career. Remember, he was penciled in as a bench-warmer this year, the eighth lineman, behind David DeCastro, Matt Feiler, and Stefen Wisniewski in the pecking order at guard. Wisniewski was the top interior reserve, with Chukwuma Okorafor the swing tackle. Both, of course, were in the starting lineup yesterday.
The question now becomes how much longer Dotson will be with the starters. He is only playing because DeCastro has missed the first two games of the season as he continues to work his way back from a knee injury that he sustained at some point during training camp. Wisniewski started the opener before getting injured late in the fourth quarter, and will miss at least another two games after being placed on injured reserve.
One would think that the Steelers believe DeCastro will be ready to play, if not this week, then the week after that. Any longer and they would have been aware of the extent of the injury such that it would have justified placing him on the injured reserve list already.
It certainly wouldn’t be shocking if he does miss another game, however, considering the fact that he didn’t even make it back on the practice field by the end of last week. And if Dotson is playing well, then they won’t want to rush him back.
Then again, they face the Houston Texans on the road next week, with J.J. Watt coming off a two-sack game. From what I hear, T.J. Watt’s older brother is pretty good, too. It wouldn’t be a bad thing at all to have DeCastro back by then, but at least Dotson’s performance was encouraging, especially in the area of his game considered weaker.