Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: OL Kevin Dotson
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The second player for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2020 season to test positive for Covid-19, rookie offensive lineman Kevin Dotson was activated from the Reserve/Covid-19 List yesterday after spending 17 days there.
While it remains to be seen whether or not he will actually dress on Wednesday—my guess is that he will, but the reality is that he hasn’t done much physical activity in weeks—the Steelers getting Kevin Dotson back is a nice little boost while fellow reserve offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins is out, having recently been placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 List himself.
A rookie fourth-round pick, Dotson has missed the past two games because of the fact that the came down with the virus—and we can only know this because he spent more than five days on the list beyond any possible close contact. If you don’t test positive, you have no reason to be on reserve for more than five days.
Earlier in the season, he showed the team that he is capable of being a contributor right away, even starting two games and playing extensively in three while guard David DeCastro was sidelined with two different injuries during the first several weeks of the season.
The team hasn’t needed him much in recent weeks, but he is a player for the future, of course—perhaps as early as 2021 for a starting role at left guard, given Matt Feiler’s status as an unrestricted free agent and their lack of cap space maneuverability.
In the immediate present, however, his return allowed the Steelers to continue to dress eight healthy and experienced linemen, which they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise now that Hawkins is unavailable.
The Steelers do have three tackles on the practice squad, and it’s conceivable that they could call one of them up (as a standard elevation) and dress them over Derwin Gray to serve as the swing tackle. What will they do? At present, we don’t know.