Whether it was due or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line looks to be flowing with some fresh blood in 2021, following the departures of three long-tenured starters, particularly center Maurkice Pouncey. The 11-year veteran, who retired earlier this offseason, is expected to be replaced by rookie third-round pick Kendrick Green.
The Steelers also drafted a tackle in the fourth round, Dan Moore Jr., whom offensive line coach Adrian Klemm was pretty insistent on making clear that he will be in competition for a job this year with Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner.
These rookies are getting their first taste of a ‘full’ NFL practice with veterans during OTAs, so what has Kevin Dotson, a second-year player entering the starting lineup this year, seeing from them, from the perspective of somebody who was in their shoes just a year ago?
“I’ve seen them learn. I feel like they’ve been attentive to what they lack or what they feel like they need to work on”, he told reporters following practice earlier today. “I feel like they’re gonna be those guys who work actively to better themselves, and it’s not something that we have to tell them every day, ‘you need to do this, you need to do that’. Once you tell them once, they try to improve upon it. So I feel confident in them”.
Dotson did not feel overly confident in himself last year heading into his rookie season, as he spoke about a time or two this offseason. No doubt a part of that was because of the nature of the year. Due to the pandemic, he was unable to get on the practice field until training camp. As a small-school player who was a non-Combine invitee, he admitted that he had doubts about his ability to compete on this level until getting the opportunity to actually do it.
Green and Moore are already in-house. While they may not be doing intense and competitive work right now during a compromise OTA format, they are getting instructions and feedback about their play. And their response to that feedback is the most important, and the most encouraging, according to Dotson.
The best thing that you can do for yourself is to be independently motivated. Not everybody has that innate push, admittedly, even at the highest levels of your profession, in this case the NFL. The rookies’ desire to better themselves will only serve them, and the team, well as they head into the 2021 season, and may provide them a springboard to early contributions.