Steelers News

Report Claims Steelers’ Frustration With Kevin Dotson Led To Initial Interest In Trai Turner

So, if you get any Pittsburgh Steelers news from outside of our website, you may have seen a curious story doing the rounds yesterday. A local Steelers beat writer claims to have gained information from an “as impeccable as it gets” source that the team’s coaches have not been happy with second-year offensive lineman Kevin Dotson—and that, in fact, their first visit with Trai Turner as a free agent more than a week ago (a week before he actually signed) was due to those frustrations with Dotson, and not due to the lingering concerns with David DeCastro.

Of course, the Steelers ended up waiving DeCastro last week with a Non-Football Injury designation after it was revealed that he would require ankle surgery that could cause him to miss the season. They turned around and signed Turner the same day to replace him.

But Dejan Kovacevic of DK Sports maintains that he was told by the aforementioned source that the first visit was, in fact, not at all about DeCastro, but rather about Dotson, and even went on to suggest that he feels they may still have to bring in another lineman now that Turner was brought in as DeCastro’s replacement. He stated the following on the DK Pittsburgh Sports podcast recently.

The Steelers coaches are plenty angry with Dotson over his not having done anything, basically, is the way this was described to me, over the offseason…the reason that the Steelers brought Trai Turner in for that first visit, a week before David DeCastro was released, I’m told, had nothing to do with DeCastro. It had everything to do with Dotson. It had everything to do with them saying, ‘listen, do you really think you’ve got this locked up?’.

He proceeded to go on and on in a rather condescending and patronizing manner with the assumption that Dotson took it as a given that he had ‘made it’ and was gifted a starting job, and that he could basically start coasting now, though he would never offer specifics of any kind.

His report was understandably met with a great deal of skepticism, considering that Dotson is the prospect who went viral during the pandemic last year for making sure he could continue to get his training in by pulling a truck.

But he says that the standards set by the coaches weren’t “even close to being met”, and that the Steelers were right to go out and look for help…and that “now you wonder if they don’t have to go out and get more…especially after this”.

Dotson has a reputation of being a hard worker, and he has been training with Duke Manyweather this offseason, who is perhaps the most respected independent offensive line coach in the world, who came to his client’s defense, basically suggesting the report was laughable, and shared videos of his workouts.

Dotson himself weighed in just a bit, responding to one fan by saying that he hasn’t heard any of this from the coaches, so if the report is to be believed, then it would seem to imply that they are speaking about a player behind his back.

This doesn’t really fit into what we know about head coach Mike Tomlin, who has been rather forthright over the years when he feels like a player is not putting in the work, particularly with respect to conditioning, but also in the classroom and elsewhere.

It’s also worth noting that there don’t appear to have been any negative reports of any kind, that I can find, about Dotson over the course of OTAs and minicamp; one would think that if there were an issue, it would have manifested in at least some small way on the field.

While no specifics were given, the reporter states that it was framed to him that Dotson has hardly done anything this offseason. We can’t know what he might have done in terms of learning the offense, but it’s plenty obvious that he has been training his body. So unless anybody else ever tries to corroborate this story, it will rightfully be held with a great degree of skepticism.

Again, the report suggests that the issues were so great that they brought in a free agent to give them another option, and then added that they might still have to bring in somebody else now that Turner is replacing DeCastro. He suggested that Dotson could to “an awful lot of catching up” with a “hellacious” month of training before training camp. He even talked about hoping the Steelers don’t “hold a grudge” against him, and the he just hopes he “learns a lesson” that can happen “never again”.

Is it possible that Dotson, a 24-year-old in his second year in the league, got just the slightest of big heads and figured he could take it somewhat easy, in certain respects, in the spring? Perhaps. Even assuming that’s true, would it be the worst thing in the world, and call for his being challenged with the best available free agent? I highly doubt it.

It also doesn’t help the reporter when he repeatedly responds to people making a big deal out of a story he calls a “no-headline thing” by asking where the clicks are coming, as though he doesn’t understand how he’s benefitting from the report generating buzz. He wrote about Dotson in a nugget in an article last week, he claims, but then he dedicated a 10-minute podcast segment to it this week, perhaps after, well, not getting enough clicks last week. But yes, I can’t imagine why anybody would be making a big deal about it.

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