PITTSBURGH – While Zach Banner and Chuks Okorafor have gotten back into the fold with the first-team offensive line, even if it is on a limited basis, one notable player has been absent with the Steelers offensive line: second-year guard Kevin Dotson.
Dotson, who has worked some individual periods early in training camp but not in team action or in the preseason opener against Dallas last week, finally returned to the team period on Sunday, but he was with the second team. Rashaad Coward still was working with the first team.
Dotson, who was especially impressive when called on to make four starts as a rookie in 2020, was penned in by many to be the team’s starting left guard after Matt Feiler left to join the Los Angeles Chargers through free agency.
However, that has been anything but the case, and head coach Mike Tomlin publicly commented on Dotson’s insertion with the second team rather than the first team.
“He has done nothing to earn first-team reps,” Tomlin said after Sunday’s practice. “What are we talking about? He’s a second-year guy who hasn’t worked.”
The Steelers and Tomlin could be wanting to light a certain fire under Dotson as he returns from whatever held him out of the early part of practice.
Tomlin said that Dotson “tweaked a little something” after missing the first practice of training camp on July 22, and said that he should only miss a day or two. He said at that point that “it’s not anything of any concern from a big picture standpoint, to be perfectly honest with you.”
It is possible that Dotson has done something to ruffle the feathers of coaches in the locker room. The staff was reportedly unhappy with his level of conditioning after training camp. Either way, Dotson will clearly have to earn his way back onto the first team. That much is very clear.