PITTSBURGH – Maybe, the whole ruckus was not to be overblown. Last week, Mike Tomlin made headlines when he “called out” Kevin Dotson, who was working with the second team on his way back from a nagging ankle injury. However, Dotson played especially well on Thursday night against the Eagles. On Saturday, it was Dotson running on the first-team offensive line at left guard.
Yes, Trai Turner and Kendrick Green were not at practice. However, that was not why Dotson was in the first team lineup. Rashaad Coward was fine and healthy, but working with the second team at left guard. B.J. Finney filled the void at right guard while Dotson took the first-team reps. Dotson even got some first-team action against the Eagles on Thursday. This move should come as no surprise, but it signals that Dotson is on his way to coming back into the starting lineup.
With Green excused and Turner getting a veteran day off, Sunday may be the first day the Steelers as an offensive line get their entire starting unit on the field together. That matters to build the chemistry that those five are trying to build. It seems possible that against the Lions, the Steelers may have all five of their starting offensive lineman playing together.
Seven shots is a daily set of plays from the two-yard line, featuring the Steelers No. 1 offense vs. No. 1 defense for three plays, No. 2 offense vs. No. 2 defense for two plays and the No. 3 offense vs. No. 3 defense for two plays.
🏈: The Steelers went into an empty set with a stacked set of Chase Claypool and Najee Harris to the right side of the formation. Ben Roethlisberger wanted to hit Harris on an out route to the pylon near the goal line. However, Devin Bush had tight coverage to the inside of Harris’ hip and was able to knock the pass away for an incompletion.
🏈: The Steelers came out in a two-tight end set with both of their tight ends to the right side of the formation. On the other side, JuJU Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson were isolated in a stacked look. They ran a natural pick with Smith-Schuster, and Johnson was able to beat Pierre on a quick out route. Roethlisberger found Pierre open for the touchdown.
🏈: Roethlisberger floated a rainbow towards Johnson who tried to shimmy Pierre away from the back pylon. However, Pierre stayed tight to Johnson the whole way. Somehow, Johnson still came down with the ball and tapped one foot in, but Pierre pushed him out of bounds for an incompletion.
🏈: Mason Rudolph now got his reps in. On this play, Rudolph had two options over the middle of the field with Zach Gentry running a quick curl to the middle of the field and Anthony Johnson peeking behind that. However, Rudolph sailed the ball over everybody and it fell harmlessly incomplete through to the back of the endzone.
🏈: The Steelers aligned in a bunch set to the left of the formation hoping to hit Matthew Sexton on a quick slant. Sexton broke open amidst the traffic created by the set and route concept. However, Rudolph led Sexton a bit too far. Sexton tried to dive for the ball, but it hit off his fingertips for the incomplete pass.
🏈: Dwayne Haskins now got his opportunities on the day. With Lafayette Pitts in coverage, Haskins zeroed in on a one-on-one matchup between Pitts and Rico Bussey. Bussey beat Pitts’ outside leverage to tap his feet in the back of the endzone. Overall, a good throw and catch by Bussey and Haskins.
🏈: Haskins targeted tight end Marcus Baugh on a crossing route over the middle of the field. Baugh was aligned in tight to the formation. Donovan Stiner was attached at the hip to Baugh on the whole way and used his length to get the pass breakup in the corner of the endzone.
In the wide receiver and defensive back coverage drills, Johnson was virtually uncoverable. That is to no one’s surprise at all. Everything that Johnson before, and frankly after, the catch is phenomenal, often textbook wide receiver play. The biggest thing that has been an issue for Johnson is the catch itself. After dropping a ball in the endzone on one rep, Johnson immediately got on the ground and started cranking out push-ups.
It may be a small price to pay for fixing the drop issues. But that was a self-imposed disciplinary action on the part of Johnson. No coach asked him to get down. He has been out on the field working on his hands before every practice. It seems if there is one thing that Johnson fixes, he wants it to be his hands.
DAN MOORE WORKING BOTH SIDES
Say it how you will, the Steelers are trying to challenge their rookie tackle in Dan Moore Jr. Moore was seen working at right tackle on Saturday. That is the first time that Moore has even taken a rep at the right tackle in a game or in training camp. While it is certainly clear that Adrian Klemm and Tomlin would like to see Moore work from both sides, he is not a lock for any starting job.
Instead, it appears that Moore may have taken a leap over Joe Haeg for the primary swing tackle spot. Either way, Moore is looking impressive and becoming a quick learner at a position that learning quickly is simply not easy to do. If he can continue his trajectory, the Steelers will be better off for it.
Joe Schobert is not the only shakeup in the linebacker room. Marcus Allen was seen taking first-team linebacker reps over Robert Spillane on Saturday. It seems that not only has Spillane lost his starting job, but he is officially falling down the depth chart as well. Allen looked solid in coverage, including a great pass breakup on a double move intended for Pat Freiermuth.
Devin Bush was the best coverage linebacker on the team. He was challenged by Freiermuth today and split the reps with him. On the one he was beaten on, Bush was immediately on the case to make the tackle. In team drills, Bush had three pass breakups, including the one in seven shots. This linebacking corps will be different, but it should be better for it.