There’s a saying in the NFL that if a team has two quarterbacks, chances are they don’t really even have one. While this might seem to be the case when teams are trying to figure out who’s going to be commanding their huddles and slinging the rock down the field, this isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to other positions. The Pittsburgh Steelers know this all too well, especially when it comes to right guard.
In five games of the 2020 season, the Steelers have had three different players start at right guard. Stefen Wisniewski took the field in Week 1 replacing injured All-Pro David DeCastro. When Wismiewski went down late in the game, it opened up the door for rookie Kevin Dotson to step up to the plate and make the start in Week 2. What happened in that game? Kevin Dotson exceeded expectations.
Then comes Week 3 of the 2020 season. David DeCastro returns and Dotson is delegated to the sidelines. So in three games, the Steelers had three different starters.
In Week 4, the Steelers end up with an impromptu bye week. DeCastro is back on the field for the Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles but sustained an injury in the first quarter. Kevin Dotson was called back into duty and started the Steelers Week 6 thumping of the Cleveland Browns.
Over the Steelers last four games, right guard has not been a concern. Whether it was DeCastro or Dotson, the Steelers have gotten above the line play from each player. At the same time, Chukwuma Okorafor has stepped up to the plate at right tackle and has helped to hold down that side of the Steelers offensive line.
Although nothing has been said as of yet in regards to the return of David DeCastro this week, it is believed he should be ready sooner than later as the Steelers did not place him on the Reserve/Injured List which would have held him out for three games. Should DeCastro return this week as the Steelers face the Tennessee Titans, exactly what Pittsburgh does on the right side of the offensive is a problem many NFL teams would be dying to be faced with in 2020.
Would you like a good example? Simply look at the Steelers Week 6 opponent. The Cleveland Browns starting right guard Wyatt Teller was the highest ranked offensive guard according to PFF. But Teller was unable to play against the Steelers with a calf injury, so former Steelers tackle Chris Hubbard made his first NFL start at guard on Sunday. Although the scoreboard tells quite the tale, trust me when I say that Teller’s presence was greatly missed against the Steelers dominant defensive front.
No matter which player the Steelers go with moving forward at the right guard position, they will be having a great option not seeing the field. While there is a suggestion among Steelers’ Nation of shuffling around the Steelers line in order to get both players on the field, it’s highly unlikely barring an injury to another position. The Steelers line has a good thing going, and making an unnecessary shift in positions during the season isn’t something they need to be undertaking at this point.
One thing the play of Kevin Dotson has brought is there being no need to rush David Castro back from his abdominal injury. If he needs another week, it’s fine. If he needs several more weeks, the rookie is ready to continue to hold down the position, and he’s doing it quite well.
But when did Castro returns, look for Dotson to be standing next to offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett during the game.
It’s a shame a player like Kevin Dotson may miss out on playing time simply because of the skill of the player he is backing up. Dotson has yet to give up a sack in 2020 and coming into Week 6 of the season he was the highest graded pass blocking guard in the NFL according to PFF. After his performance against the Browns, I don’t expect that ranking to change.
Kevin Dotson is showing the Steelers not only have great play at the guard position in 2020, but the future is also looking bright. Unfortunately, Dotson will most likely only be honing his skills at practice and when having to fill-in due to someone else’s injury.
Having too many options for a given position can be a problem. But for the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’m sure they will manage it quite well. After all, it is light years ahead of having the opposite problem of not having an adequate back up when needed.