The 2021 season certainly didn’t go well at all for Pittsburgh Steelers guard Kevin Dotson, who only managed to play in nine games in total because of an ankle injury suffered in Week 10. Dotson also started the 2021 season at left guard, a position that was still very foreign to him after mainly playing right guard for his entire college career. After the Steelers finished their first OTA practice of 2022 on Tuesday, Dotson, who is now in his third NFL season, talked about how challenging the 2021 season was for him.
“I worked on being on the left side during the offseason,” Dotson said, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I wasn’t comfortable all last year. I’m way more comfortable now. You kind of have to switch your brain. Muscles I wasn’t using on the left side, when I switched, I legit started getting cramps on my left side because my body didn’t feel right.”
Once again, while Dotson did play some at left guard during his 2020 rookie season, he never looked comfortable at the position and that’s not too surprising with him playing more than 50 games at right guard during his college career at Louisiana-Lafayette. He was still trying to find his way at left guard last season prior to suffering his ankle injury in Week 10, which would result in him never playing another down the remainder of the season.
After Wednesday’s practice, Dotson, who also dealt with COVID-19 and a minor shoulder injury during his rookie season, talked about his health misfortunes that he’s endured so far as an NFL player through two seasons.
“It’s been crazy injury-wise because I had never been injured before,” Dotson said, according to Fittipaldo. “It kind of took a toll on me not being able to play. I was trying to get back, and that’s what kind of messed me up. I tried to be the hero and come back. They told me something like 3-6 weeks and I tried to come back Week 6 when I wasn’t 100%.”
As things stand right now just a few days into the team’s 2022 OTA practices, it sounds like Dotson is going to have to beat out second-year interior offensive lineman Kendrick Green for the starting left guard job as newcomer James Daniels seems slated to be the team’s starting right guard.
Green, who attempted to play center during his 2021 rookie season, mostly played left guard during his college career at Illinois. In short, Green likely has more comfort at left guard than Dotson has at this point. The loser of that battle between Dotson and Green is likely to be the Steelers 2022 interior swingman at both guard spots with the latter able to also play center in a pinch.
Dotson staying healthy all offseason and into training camp this year will certainly help his chances when it comes to him having a shot at beating out Green at left guard. It’s a big year for the Steelers former fourth round draft pick, who was deemed a 2020 scouting combine snub during his pre-draft process. When Dotson was originally drafted, it seemed as though the Steelers may have gotten a steal with him. However, as he begins his third NFL season, he’s yet to live up to that narrative. Hopefully he can start doing so in 2022 as the Steelers certainly could use a major jump forward in their interior offensive line play right away.