When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers and competition created during training camp, the old saying from head coach Mike Tomlin of “iron sharpens iron” is more than just a cute little Tomlinism: it’s a true way of life for the black and gold under the future Hall of Fame head coach.
That’s never more present right now than in the trenches for the Steelers, as a standout starting front seven defensively is really challenging a relatively rebuilt staring offensive line, featuring one Kevin Dotson, who finds himself in a true competition with second-year pro Kendrick Green for the starting job at left guard.
While he’s being pushed from behind by Green and challenged daily in practice by the likes of Cameron Heyward, Chris Wormley and Tyson Alualu to name a few, Dotson is also cognizant that the “iron sharpens iron” mantra is also helping a number of young defensive linemen on the other side of the football, who are quickly establishing themselves as candidates for playing time this season in depth roles.
A lot of the development from a couple of young defensive linemen has to do with the leadership displayed by Heyward, the All-Pro and defensive captain for the black and gold, according to Dotson, who spoke with reporters Saturday following practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side, according to video via Steelers.com.
“I think they’re all really following Cam and they’re really getting the hang of it and understanding what it is to be a defensive Steeler player,” Dotson said to reporters Saturday, according to video via Steelers.com. “I think they all have somebody to follow and I really like that.”
Having someone to follow and lean on for guidance in their development early in their NFL careers has been a big boost for names like DeMarvin Leal, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Carlos Davis and Khalil Davis in the trenches. Having that guidance is helping them find their games, which is then challenging the guys across from them in the trenches, like Dotson, who stated to reporters Saturday that he’s appreciative of those guys and their growth, largely because it’s helping him in the process.
“…They take stuff. Like, they’ll come ask you stuff after practice and stuff like that, ‘what would you do right here? Or, ‘how do you see me like when I’m setting,’ those type things,” Dotson said to reporters, according to video via Steelers.com. “And I like that a lot.”
Getting a chance to explain himself and his sets to opposing defensive linemen, and then be able to turn around and ask what a defensive lineman is trying to do to him in certain situations is only going to help Dotson in his growth and development entering his third season in the NFL, one which is a pivotal season for him as he’s in a position battle.
Not only is he being challenged physically in training camp, he’s getting the mental aspect too from younger players, which will only make him better in the long run. Iron sharpens iron, and it’s a win-win situation for the Steelers.