Summer Battling First-Teamers Left Inexperienced Linemen Calm in First Start Together
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers' right side of the offensive line featured two players starting their first game of the 2020 season.
Rookie Kevin Dotson and tackle Chukwuma Okorafor stepped on the field as the Steelers starters following a string of injuries to the offensive line. In their first start as a duo, the two did not allow a sack or cause a penalty.
Okorafor and Dotson agreed that the nerves of starting left rather quickly once the game started.
"I don't really get too nervous about playing in games or get nervous about football," Dotson said. "I get more nervous about real life-type situations. I think I've done football long enough to know what could possibly happen."
Both Dotson and Okorafor have worked with the first team during Steelers training camp. Okorafor battled with Zach Banner for the starting right tackle job and was considered starter worthy even after losing the competition. Dotson filled in for the injured David DeCastro while the team tried to fill the gap.
"If you would ask me this before the season started, I'd say I'd imagine the game going crazy and, 'it's going to be really hard to block these people,'" Dotson said about his first NFL start. "But I've been taking practice reps with [Stephon] Tuitt, Cam [Heyward] and T.J. [Watt] all during [training camp]. So getting into that game, I have confidence in going against pretty much anybody defensive line wise."
Okorafor acknowledged that the Broncos did gameplan against the Steelers' right side of the line and the inexperienced linemen.
"It was a little bit much because it was two new guys playing, so they wanted to do a bunch of twists," he said.
Both linemen agreed that their pass protection outweighed their run blocking. The offensive line allowed just one sack throughout the game, none coming from Okorafor or Dotson.
"I don't think I did too bad in either one of them, but I think I did better in my pass, just off of not giving up any sacks against quality opponents," Dotson said.
"The people who know football know that I am more versatile than just being a run blocker. The people who know the position know that I'm just not a run blocker. But it was good to be able to prove it to other people."