There’s two positions where the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t named a starter. Quarterback, of course, with all eyes on Mitch Trubisky versus Kenny Pickett, though every indication is Trubisky will take the first snaps of the season. The same can be said about left guard, an open competition all summer, between Kevin Dotson versus Kendrick Green. Though Mike Tomlin hasn’t announced anything, Dotson believes he’ll be first man up instead of next man up.
Speaking to reporters following today’s practice, Dotson says he hasn’t been told he’ll start but he thinks he’ll be in the lineup come Week 1.
“I believe I will be,” he said via the Steelers’ team website. “I think I am.”
Dotson and Green rotated first-team left guard snaps throughout training camp, switching off between 11v11 team sessions. Dotson missed about a week with a right foot injury suffered on August 8th, giving Green more exposure to the starting lineup, and Green started the team’s first two preseason games. But Green struggled mightily in the second game against Jacksonville, and Dotson served as the team’s starter in Sunday’s preseason finale against Detroit. He, like the rest of the offensive line, improved, and it would be surprising if Dotson wasn’t the Steelers’ choice to start the year. However, Dotson is still waiting for the official word.
“Haven’t been told anything. I can’t really give you a full, 100% answer. But I’m pretty sure.”
Dotson’s last two summers have been rough rides. In 2021, he missed the first half of camp for unknown reasons and had to regain the starting job in the preseason, though he quickly did so upon returning to practice. His season was cut short halfway through, suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 10 that knocked him out for the rest of the year. This summer, that aforementioned foot injury sidelined him while his play was hot and cold, struggling to run away with the starting job. Dotson admitted his preseason has been less than ideal.
“I feel like it was pretty tough. Just trying to get over injuries and stuff like that. But I feel like I’ve come through it. Got past those things and I’m doing the things that I need to do to make sure I could go week-by-week.”
Should Dotson start, Kendrick Green would become the team’s backup. But he may struggle to get a hat on gameday. Pittsburgh looks for versatile offensive linemen to serve as backups. Green would be the team’s third-string center behind Mason Cole and J.C. Hassenauer and has never played right guard before, limiting what he can offer off the bench. The Steelers would also be reluctant to shift a player like Dotson if say, RG James Daniels was injured in a game. It’s not out of the question Green is no longer a Steeler by Week 1, potentially replaced by someone on the waiver wire.
Dotson and the rest of the Steelers’ line are the X-Factors of the team, and a unit that must be better than a year ago. Pittsburgh’s biggest question marks come along the game’s most valuable positions, quarterback and offensive line. Pittsburgh will soon provide answers as to who will start at each spot, and we have good guesses as to who they’ll be, but those are two units who will be under the spotlight all season.