No football player wants to be called soft. Especially not an offensive lineman. For Kevin Dotson, he hopes 2022 proved his doubters wrong. In a one-on-one interview with Steelers.com’s Dale Lolley, Dotson says he heard his detractors accuse him of not being tough enough for the NFL.
“I was trying to just change some people’s minds over me,” Dotson told Lolley. “I’ve never been known to be that person to miss any time. So that was kind of a crazy thing to hear. There’s a lot of background noise of people and who thought I was soft. That I couldn’t finish a season even though up to this season I never missed the game until I got to the league. So I just wanted to change their perception.”
Dotson had elite starting experience coming out of Louisiana- Lafayette, starting 42 career games for the Rajun Cajuns. But he’s battled injuries and nicks in the NFL. In 2021, he missed a large chunk of training camp for still-unknown reasons while he couldn’t finish the year after suffering a high ankle sprain. 2022 was largely a different story, staying healthy and playing all 17 games.
Health was the theme of the Steelers’ offensive line. Pittsburgh was the only team in the league to have the same starting five all 17 games. Only center Mason Cole missed any noticeable amount of time, sitting out the second half of the team’s Week 11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Only 19 offensive lineman played 100% of their snaps this season and the Steelers had three of them: LT Dan Moore Jr, RG James Daniels, and Dotson.
Such continuity paid off for the starting five and Dotson agreed the health of the group was a driving reason for their progress.
“The more experience you have with the people around you, the more you feel comfortable and the faster you can play.”
Like the rest of the Steelers’ offense, Dotson improved over the course of the season. But he struggled to find consistent technique in the pass game, was good for at least one mental error per game, and was penalized a whopping 11 times. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, it’s fair to wonder if the team will look for a better and long-term option. It’ll be one of the most interesting discussions of Omar Khan and Andy Weidl’s first full offseason in their GM and assistant GM roles.