Just a few months after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers out of Louisiana, guard Kevin Dotson made his first NFL start on Sunday at Heinz Field against the Denver Broncos.
Even without a crowd at the Steelers’ home venue, it’s a long way from playing in the Sun Belt, and in not a whole lot of time. It’s a situation where some first-day jitters would certainly be allowed, if not expected. But Dotson is not a typical rookie in many ways, and he embraced the challenge of replacing injured Steelers guard David DeCastro and Stefen Wisniewski.
“If you asked me this before the season started, I’d have been like, I can’t imagine the game going crazy and it’s gonna be really hard to block these people,” Dotson said. “But I’ve been taking practice reps with [Stephon] Tuitt and Cam [Heyward] and TJ [Watt] all during these weeks, so you know, getting into that game, I have confidence in going against pretty much anybody, defensive-line wise.”
By nearly all accounts, that confidence served Dotson well. He graded out highly according to Pro Football Focus, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin gave him postgame praise and Ben Roethlisberger gave him a game ball after the win. Dotson, who grew up a Steelers fan because of his father, said he plans to give him the ball.
“It was just a really cool experience to be able to get that ball,” Dotson said. “I’ve been talking to Ben and just tell them about my father and stuff like that. So, it was really cool to get that gift and just be able to send it to my dad, who I know who’s gonna appreciate it. And know he’s gonna hold on to it forever.”
Dotson said that his father called him as soon as the game ended, and he couldn’t wait to deliver the news.
“I got to talk to him as soon as it happened,” Dotson said. “This is the most excited I’ve heard him before, you know, just how perked he was to hear.”
As far as the game, Dotson still feels like he has more to give, despite a lot of recognition for his rookie debut.
“I’m easily my hardest critic,” he said. “Even going through high school and college, I always felt like if I’m not actively pancaking somebody, I’m not doing a good job. That’s something I need to learn that that’s not something that comes around too often like it did in high school. So I think I did pretty good but I feel like I could do way better.”
Coming out of college, Dotson was labeled as a “mauler” and a player whose pure physical strength and surly on-field disposition would make him dominant force in the running game. But he proved on Sunday that he could be more than that, not allowing a single quarterback pressure despite playing the entire game.
“I think I did better in my past protection,” Dotson said. “I don’t think I did too bad in either one of them. But I think I did better in my pass, just off of not giving up any sacks, things like that against quality opponents.
“I think the people who know football pretty much know that I am more versatile than just being a run blocker. The people who know know the position and things like that can know that I’m not just a run blocker. But it was good to be able to kind of prove it to other people.”
Report: Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey Has Told Teammates He’ll Retire
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has told teammates that he will retire, according to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Former Steelers guard Ramon Foster, now of DK Pittsburgh Sports, reported on Jan. 12 that Pouncey was “50-50” on whether he would return for the 2021 season.
The 31-year-old Pouncey just finished his 11th season in the NFL, all of which have been with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has one year remaining on his contract, which would pay him $14.475 million if he returns. Just $6.475 million of that is guaranteed. The Steelers would save $8 million in cap space if he retires.
Pouncey made the Pro Bowl for the ninth time in 2020 and has also been a five-time Associated Press All-Pro. He was also a member of the NFL’s 2010s All-Decade Team, largely giving him Hall of Fame credentials.\
JuJu Smith-Schuster Asks Fans to Give him Space
JuJu Smith-Schuster is experiencing the negative side effect of living so much of his personal life in the public eye. The Steelers receiver, who is looking for a new NFL contract, took to Instagram to ask fans to leave him alone.
This stems from allegations that fans are showing up to his family home in California while he is there. Obviously, fans have no right to show up unwelcome anywhere to stalk an an athlete or celebrity, but this is just another example of the polarization of Smith-Schuster’s career. While he’s received much criticism, most notably this past season, for his sometimes over-the-top behavior and seemingly prioritizing his brand at all times, he also has many avid supporters who would stop at nothing to defend one of their favorite players.
Smith-Schuster is set to be a free agent in March for the first time in his professional career. If the Steelers should try to bring back the receiver has become a hot debate among Pittsburgh fans, so much so Smith-Schuster himself addressed the situation during a live Twitch sessions with fans.
Even Smith-Schuster’s play on the field is often up for debate. He totaled 97 receptions, but for only 831 yards with an average of just 8.6 yards per catch, which is significantly lower than his average from past seasons, including 15.8 his rookie year and 13.1 in 2019.
When it comes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, it’s always best to just stay tuned.
Steelers’ Vance McDonald Reflects on Stiff Arm Moment, Relationship with Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers tight end Vance McDonald spoke to the media after officially announcing his retirement from the NFL. McDonald responded to a question about the play he’s most synonymous with by saying he embraces the famous stiff arm moment. He also detailed his interaction with Ben Roethlisberger when he told his quarterback he was planning to retire.