With the departure of Matt Feiler in free agency, there is a starting spot open along the offensive line at left guard. That spot is expected to be filled by Kevin Dotson, who is heading into his second season after being selected in the fourth round a year ago.
After spending his entire career prior to the NFL left playing at right guard, however, he knows there will be adjustments, and a certain lack of comfort for a period of time, something he’s already gone through, having started two games there already in 2020.
“I played my entire career at right, but I felt pretty good at left. I played against some quality competition at left, so I feel pretty confident in it”, he told Teresa Varley recently, in an article published on the team’s website. “I am getting more comfortable with my left side. I did pretty good, but I felt awkward the whole time I was on the left side”.
The Steelers’ starting right guard, of course, is David DeCastro. After spending his entire career at right guard before coming into the NFL, he was a plug-and-play starter there as a first-round draft pick in 2012 (at least after he recovered from a torn MCL in the preseason, anyway).
The six-time consecutive Pro Bowler is the reason that Dotson can’t start at right guard, where he is more comfortable. But DeCastro’s lack of ambidexterity also means that he can’t provide the young up-and-comer with much insight about shifting sides.
One guy who can is Ramon Foster, who before settling in at left guard in the final three games of the 2012 season and remaining there for the remainder of his career started most of his game (including the first 13 of the 2012 season) at right guard. And to his credit, Dotson has said that he has reached out to other linemen about it.
“I have talked to a few offensive linemen, people that worked with offensive linemen in the league. I am asking them questions about switching sides”, he told Varley. “They have told me even after switching for two or three years, they still feel uncomfortable. It gives me confidence that I can start to feel more comfortable later in my career”.
There is still no telling how his career will turn out, and if he will prove to be a long-term starter, though he has shown positive signs. One might wonder, though, if his long-term future is to be locked in at left guard, or if he might move to right guard when DeCastro hangs things up.