It wasn’t until recently — Brooke Pryor of ESPN reporting that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Kevin Dotson was dealing with an ankle injury — that we had any kind of clarity on why he was not a regular participant in practice, before returning to the field yesterday.
Now back into the swing of things, the second-year guard stepped in front of the media after today’s practice, and talked about being back in the lineup, as well as his injury situation and what it had been like, confirming Pryor’s report.
“It was an ankle injury. It just kept lingering, and it was one of those things where you don’t want to go out there and hurt it more”, he said. “It was one of those [situations where] if I were to go out there and look bad, then it’s just gonna mess up my reputation”.
“If I’m hurt and you put me up against Cam [Heyward], it’s gonna look worse, so I took as much as I can to get back, to get right”, he added. “I had to get two PRP shots. I just really couldn’t be back at that time. [But] I feel like I’ll be able to get back in it. I’m feeling 100%, or close to it”.
PRP shots are platelet rich plasma, or as Dotson describes it, it’s “where they take the blood, split it, put it back in”. The important thing to know about the treatment is that it’s supposed to hasten the recovery time of such injuries as he was dealing with.
As you know by now, the Steelers have had him running with the second-team offensive line over the course of the past couple of days, even though he is listed as a starter on the depth chart. Yesterday, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked why that was, and he said that Dotson is a young guy who hadn’t been working, and hasn’t earned those first-team reps.
He was consistently working with the first-team offense during OTAs, though Rashaad Coward, who is in his spot now, was also in that line, filling in for David DeCastro. With Trai Turner in DeCastro’s place since then, Coward has been at left guard with the first team.
After starting four games as an injury replacement during his rookie season a year ago, the expectation was that Dotson would enter the starting lineup this year, with 2020 left guard Matt Feiler departing for the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency.
It may take him some time before he ‘earns’ the first-team reps again in the coaches’ eyes, but I would be surprised if it doesn’t happen well before the start of the regular season. This is just the process that a young player goes through coming off of an injury. Even Ryan Shazier, a rookie starter as a first-round pick, was benched that first year after missing time due to injury.