Though the Pittsburgh Steelers have no current obligation to release an injury report, Mike Tomlin noted one injury that took place during the team’s first training camp practice Thursday afternoon. Second-year guard Kevin Dotson suffered a minor injury prior to training camp.
ESPN’s Brooke Pryor tweeted out this report.
Steelers aren’t starting out with anyone on the PUP list, though a few guys didn’t participate – including LG Kevin Dotson, who Mike Tomlin said “tweaked” something but should be fine in a few days. TJ Watt didn’t do team drills, but did participate in individuals.
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 22, 2021
“We were taking care of him,” was Tomlin’s full quote post-practice. He’s got a day or two. He should be fine. I think he tweaked a little something. But it’s not anything of any concern whatsoever, to be honest with you, for the big picture.”
With practice closed until next week, it will be tough to monitor Dotson’s availability over the next couple of days. Tomlin does give updates on the status of injured plays but unless the injury is serious, he usually describes them in vague terms. But for now, we should take Tomlin at his word that the injury is minor.
Tomlin didn’t seem to describe the issue as conditioning-related. There were offseason reports that indicated the coaching staff wasn’t happy with the shape Dotson showed up in. Those reports were refuted by several people, including Dotson himself. The Steelers didn’t place anyone on Active/PUP, the typical place for players to go if there’s a readiness-related issue.
It’s unclear who the next man up to replace Dotson is. It could be B.J. Finney, who did not start at center today with rookie Kendrick Green starting in the middle. It could also be Rashaad Coward or even Joe Haeg. Both players were signed in part because of their versatility. Haeg is primarily a tackle and Coward primarily a guard.
The Steelers are counting on Dotson to be one of the anchors of an offensive line that looks completely different compared to a year ago. After starting four games as a rookie, Dotson is expected to be the Week 1 starter at left guard. He played well last season as one of the few bright spots along the offensive line.
The reason for Watt not participating is unclear. But the fact he went through individual drills means that he’s not dealing with anything more than a very minor injury. The team could be wanting to give more reps to newly-signed Melvin Ingram. Of course, Watt is also potentially a few weeks away from securing a mega-contract. He probably doesn’t mind sitting out of team reps right now and reducing the chance of a serious injury.