The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: How long will it take for Kevin Dotson to ‘earn’ first-team reps again in Mike Tomlin’s eyes?
Reports have indicated that second-year guard Kevin Dotson battled an ankle injury since the start of training camp, and only this week was at a point in his health that the coaches and medical staff felt comfortable throwing him back into team drills.
But despite being listed as a starter on the depth chart, he was working with the second team. When head coach Mike Tomlin was asked about it after practice, he said Dotson was a young player who hasn’t earned it because he hadn’t been working (due to the injury). He also praised Rashaad Coward, who has been running first-team in his place.
I think most people watching this situation understand, or at least believe, that it’s only a matter of time before Dotson is back working with the starters, and that this is just the process of a young player (who hasn’t been a starter before) working his way back from an injury, especially when there is a veteran option also in the picture.
So the question, at least I think, is a matter not of if, but when? The Steelers have their second preseason game on Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Dotson will be in that game. Will he be with the starters? One way Tomlin could get around this question if he wanted would be to hold out Trai Turner and have Coward playing right guard so Dotson could also play with the ones, while not necessarily ‘promoting’ him back to first team just yet.