I don’t know how long this is going to go on, but a local beat writer spent several days getting the story into the news cycle, and we’re now on day three or four of discussing the state of conditioning of one Kevin Dotson, a second-year offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dotson, who started four games as a reserve last season, is projected to be a starter at left guard this year. A single report surfaced last week, however, stating that coaches were angry with him and his offseason regimen, and they were concerned about his conditioning—to the point that they brought in Trai Turner for a visit, before later signing him to replace David DeCastro.
Since then, multiple other beat writers, such as Ray Fittipaldo and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, have made radio appearances to relay the fact that they have not been told anything similar this offseason. Yesterday, former Steelers lineman Max Starks was on 93.7 The Fan, and he, too, was asked for his thoughts on the report, and whether it was significant, even if true.
“No, it’s not”, he said. He also mentioned that former Steelers offensive lineman—and teammate of Starks—Darnell Stapleton is the offensive line coach at Dotson’s alma mater, Louisiana-Lafayette, and that Stapleton said of Dotson that “this dude is working hard, he’s strong as an ox”.
“This is June. The is not the time” to find a nitpick, Starks said. “Now, if we get past the conditioning test in training camp and he doesn’t pass the conditioning test, or he comes in at a weight vastly over to under what they expected him to, then you worry”.
As a reminder, the original report did specifically claim that the coaches’ concerns were within the realm of conditioning. That’s documented in writing, even if behind a paywall. Now, while we don’t have full access to everything the coaches might know, all available evidence seems to point to the contrary.
And it seems to have come at Dotson personally, who has repeatedly said since being drafted that he takes pride in his work ethic. He has addressed the report in multiple ways since it spread around, and he took it to another level last night, posting a selfie on Twitter clearly showing that he is in very good shape for an offensive lineman.
The Ragin’ Cajun was a fourth-round pick in 2020, and the first player selected who was not invited to the Combine. He saw his first snaps at the end of the Steelers’ opening game after Stefen Wisniewski, starting for an injured DeCastro, was injured himself, and he started the next week.
In all, he would record four starts and log about 350 offensive snaps, generally drawing praise for his overall play, but particularly in pass protection, even though he was labeled a road-grader coming out of school. The Steelers are counting on him being a source of stability amidst a very different-looking offensive line room. And as far as we on the outside can tell, regardless of what might or might not have been said on the inside, he certainly looks like he’s up to the task.