The Steelers 2021 season, and for that matter, their future, will be greatly on the shoulders of their 2021 rookie class. With many players, including first-round pick Najee Harris, at the forefront of the Steelers’ hopes to fix many of their issues, every step in the process of the football season matters to them.
For some of the guys that were in their place a year ago in Kevin Dotson and Alex Highsmith, the rookies are impressing both of the men. Harris drew rave reviews out of rookie minicamp from his teammates, and Dotson was the latest one to give the Alabama product glowing praise.
“Just from practice alone, he (Najee Harris) does his drills to his maximum potential,” Dotson said. “He does what he’s supposed to do. He does the route running, the running plays — he’s hitting where he’s supposed to hit. There’s no backside, no cutback, it’s where he’s supposed to be until he fully understands the offense.”
Harris is not the only rookie that Dotson has been fortunate enough to work with, however. Working alongside rookie center Kendrick Green and rookie tackle Dan Moore, Dotson gave them praise for their showcase so far through two days at Offseason Training Activities. In fact, Dotson trains at the same place as Green and Moore with Duke Mayweather.
“I got to talk to them,” Dotson said. “I got to talk to the group about my first year in the league.”
Dotson continued on in speaking to a group of lineman that included Moore and Green, saying he wanted to evoke his mindset throughout his rookie season.
“The main thing I wanted to tell them is once you get your first snap in the league, you’re no longer,” Dotson said. “People are gonna hold you to a high expectation, even in practice. Once you’ve made it to the league, you’re really not a rookie anymore. People don’t have any sympathy. If you get plugged in, you better be able to compete. We can’t slow up for anybody.”
Based on what he has seen so far, Dotson believes that Green and Moore could be guys that could plug and play this season.
“I feel like they’re ready to compete with NFL guys,” Dotson said.
As for their skillsets and what has stood out about the two rookie linemen, Dotson said it all in their mindset and willingness to learn.
“I’ve seen them learn,” Dotson said. “They’ve been attentive to what they lack or what they need to work on. I feel like they’re those guys that work actively to better themselves. It’s not something we have to tell them every day….once you tell them once they try to improve upon it.”
As for the other side of the football, Highsmith likes what he has seen from Quincy Roche, who could help spell Highsmith and T.J. Watt in a rotational role this season.
“It’s been great having him (Roche) in,” Highsmith said. “He’s a done a great job. He’s willing to work and learn. He’s always asking questions. That’s one thing I like about him and I respect about him is his work ethic.”
The Steelers have lots of openings for rookies to make their impact felt. It’s very early in the process, but if the Steelers want to get somewhere this season, these young players will likely need to be major catalysts.