News and notes from around the Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football League.
The last four days in Canton, Ohio were one big party for Steelers Nation, as the team started its preseason with a win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday and then the Black and Gold rushed the Hall of Fame, with five new inductees, and Pittsburgh partisans packing Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium with wall-to-wall Terrible Towels as Bill Cowher, Alan Faneca, Bill Nunn, Troy Polamalu and Donnie Shell entered immortality.
Monday, it’s back to work.
The Steelers have been practicing at Heinz Field, with sessions on Saturday and Sunday while the attention of the fandom was largely elsewhere.
But Monday, the team will once again don the pads, and with just two days of practice before they second in-stadium test against the Eagles on Thursday night.
Three things to watch as practice gets back underway:
• Kevin Dotson returned to team-period work for the first time this camp on Sunday, but it was with the second team offensive line. Head coach Mike Tomlin said that Dotson has done “nothing” to earn first-team work at this point in his career.
With respect to Tomlin, and former Bears guard Rashaad Coward, who has done an able job of manning the spot with Dotson out, that’s nonsense.
Dotson was the better of the team’s two left guards when he made four starts as a rookie last year, wasn’t appreciably worse than former Pro Bowler David DeCastro and it was no accident that Kevin Colbert largely left the position untouched in offseason. Dotson appeared to have the position largely under control.
Now, Tomlin may be unhappy with the level of work that Dotson put in this offseason and may want to use those first-team reps as a carrot to get that work done now that he’s healthy, and that’s his right as a coach, but I’d be shocked if Dotson doesn’t end up as the team’s starting left guard.
• T.J. Watt and Stephon Tuitt have yet to practice fully through the first two and a half weeks of camp. The rest of the veterans didn’t play much in the opener against Dallas. But assuming those two don’t come out of nowhere to participate this week, they’ll be a good bit behind their brethren that work this Thursday in Philly.
It’s not an emergency yet, with over a month until the start of the regular season, but those guys will need to get some full-contact work in before they play.
• James Washington was banged up on Sunday, and while it doesn’t look serious, that will put a serious dent in trade talks, if there were any. I’m generally skeptical of the idea that the Steelers would be able to find a trade for Washington that makes sense.
But with both him and Ray-Ray McCloud on the shelf, some of the team’s young receivers like Rico Bussey, Anthony Johnson, Isaiah McKoy and Mathew Sexton will get a chance to potentially make Washington expendable.
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🏈 1997 Current Steelers linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III was born in Ocala, Florida.
🏈 1962 Pro Bowl Steelers wide receiver Louis Lipps was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lipps attended East St. John High School and Southern Mississippi before the Steelers drafted him with the No. 28 pick in 1984.
With popular “Louuu” chants raining down from the Three Rivers Stadium stands, Lipps became a fan favorite early on as a deep threat receiver and kick returner, and remained one of the brightest spots on a Steelers team that struggled through the late 1980s.
He was the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1984, a two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection in 1984 and 1985 and Steelers MVP in 1985 and 1989.
Lipps finished his NFL career with 6,019 yards and 46 total touchdowns. He remains first all-time in team history in career punt return average (11.3 yards), third in touchdowns (3), and fifth in punt returns (107) and punt return yards (1,212) and his 53 returns for 656 yards in 1984 remain team single-season records.