PITTSBURGH — With his offensive line in the midst of a rebuild, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made it clear Sunday that no one has a guaranteed starting spot.
Kevin Dotson, projected to be the starting left guard after a solid rookie season filling in for injuries on the line, didn’t work with the first team Sunday — the first day he has fully participated in training camp this season.
Instead, veteran Rashaad Coward, signed in free agency, took all of the starting reps at left guard, just as he has done in Dotson’s absence. Asked why Dotson was working with the second team instead of the first, Tomlin was firm.
“He has done nothing to earn first-team reps,” said Tomlin, who typically tempers his public assessment of his players. “What are we talking about? He’s a second-year guy who hasn’t worked.”
Despite being listed as the starting left guard ahead of B.J. Finney on the team’s initial depth chart, Dotson, 24, hasn’t worked with the first team in any capacity during camp.
The 2020 fourth-round pick spent the first week and a half working mostly by himself off to the side after sustaining a minor ankle injury, a source told ESPN. He participated in walk-throughs, but he worked only with the second team.
Coward, who started 30 games at guard in three seasons in Chicago, was listed as the second-string right guard behind Trai Turner and exclusively worked with the first team in Dotson’s absence.
“I think he’s done an excellent job,” Tomlin said of Coward. “He has the mannerisms and demeanor of a veteran and that’s needed, particularly when we’re going through the transition that we’re going through with that group.
“When we’re missing some guys who work with that group, his level of maturity and experience is showing. It’s an asset to him and us.”
Dotson finally put on full pads beginning Aug. 2, but he didn’t return to participating in team drills until Sunday.
Asked how Dotson looked during the team periods, Tomlin withheld judgement.
“I can’t tell you,” Tomlin said. “I’ll look at the tape first. It was good to have him back out there today.”
Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin want offensive guard Kevin Dotson to ‘earn first-team reps’
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