With training camp just around the corner, it’s time to turn our focus on what is going on within each position, and on the roster as a whole. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be taking a closer look at some of the roster battles that we expect to see unfold over the course of training camp as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for the start of the 2022 season.
Unlike last season, which was carried out through a pandemic, things should return much closer to normal this year, including a relocation back to Latrobe, which should help provide us with clearer insights into where people stand. Which is a good thing, considering how many outstanding questions there are both in the starting lineup and within positions.
Position: Left Guard
Up for Grabs: Starting Job
In the Mix: Kevin Dotson, Kendrick Green, J.C. Hassenauer
Even with as much changeover from last year to this, there isn’t really all that much uncertainty up and down the Steelers’ starting lineup. Of course, the weight of the quarterback position alone more than dwarfs what might be going on elsewhere, but is any other job even really anywhere close to a toss-up other than perhaps left guard?
Dan Moore Jr. is still the left tackle. Chukwuma Okorafor is still at right tackle. Mason Cole is your center and James Daniels is your right guard. While Kevin Dotson is the incumbent at left guard, he is also competing against the team’s starting center from last season, Kendrick Green, a third-round rookie who is far more comfortable at guard in the first place.
Dotson has spoken openly about the fact that that he is competing to retain his job, and that he is competing with Green. We should have a clearer picture of what this looks like exactly once we actually get into Latrobe.
At least in theory, we could also see J.C. Hassenauer in the mix there, although it should be noted that, last year, B.J. Finney was the primary backup guard, while Hassenauer was the primary backup center. If you really want to be inclusive, I suppose you could throw John Leglue in there as well.
But really, this competition is going to boil down to Dotson and Green, even if both of them still have plenty to prove. Dotson, a fourth-round pick in 2020, showed potential as a rookie, making four spot starts, and looked particularly good in pass protection.
He never quite showed that form last season, starting nine games before going down for the rest of the year due to injury. And, of course, Green is coming off of a rough rookie year where he looked like he was playing in a position at which he was not comfortable. Because he was.
With that said, I do still believe that both of these young players have potential. I think one of them can emerge and become a quality starter. It’s far from guaranteed, though, and they’ll have to settle who gets the first crack at stating their case throughout training camp and the preseason.