The Pittsburgh Steelers practiced this afternoon in Latrobe, PA in mildly adverse weather conditions. Day 3 of training camp continued with the position battle at left guard between Kevin Dotson and the Steelers third round draft pick from 2021 Kendrick Green. The second-year player was thrust into the starting role at center last year and as the season progressed it was clear that he was struggling. Ray Fittipaldo, a 25-year veteran of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shared his thoughts on the intrepid rookie journey of Green.
‘It became rather obvious, as last season progressed, Kendrick Green was being played out of position at center, but it wasn’t until Thursday afternoon Green actually expressed how uncomfortable he was during his rookie season when the Steelers asked him to be the successor to Maurkice Pouncey.’
Green played left guard for most of his collegiate career and earned an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference and an Honorable All-American mention by Pro Football Focus after playing the entire 2019 regular season at the position. He split time as a redshirt junior in the 2020 Co-Vid 19 shortened season at center and guard before the Steelers drafted him.
“I think I can be a lot better at guard,” Green said. “To be honest with you, I didn’t really like playing center, but it is what it is. I’m definitely happy to get back to what I did.”
Pittsburgh’s Green endured a rough rookie campaign from both the fans and the media who pointed out multiple times that he was not the next Maurkice Pouncey. In retrospect it may have been too much to ask of a young player who had only started four games in college at center to become the leader of the offensive line at one of the premier positions in all of football. Green to his credit is not asking for sympathy.
“No one really cares about your excuses,” he said. “It’s the NFL. I did my best last year trying to compete where I was at, but it didn’t go as well as I wanted it to. I’m just trying to be my best at guard.”
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Considering Ben Roethlisberger’s recent comments, it is refreshing to hear Green take ownership of his performance. Mason Cole who signed a free agent contract with the Steelers after playing both center and guard during his first four seasons knows exactly what adversity Green has had to face over his brief Steelers career.
“It’s important for young players to know there are going to be ups and downs in this league,” Cole said. “You’re going to struggle. There will be good games. There will be bad games. I think it’s important to use that to bound yourself forward. I think Kendrick is going to do that.”
Green and Dotson appear to be rotating training camp days with the first unit on offense. Wednesday, Dotson worked with the first unit and Thursday it was Green that was granted the reps. This training camp battle is garnering national media attention and the winner is who will start next to two key free agent pickups this offseason. A pair of young five-year NFL veterans in the impressive James Daniels and Cole.
The Steelers offensive success in running the football is likely to come from an improved interior line that gets a noticeable push off the ball. Green impressed on tape coming out of college that he possessed a nasty streak as a run blocker and hopefully the conversion back to a position he feels more comfortable will pay big dividends for his NFL future.
What do you think Steeler Nation? Who are you rooting for to win this competition, Dotson or Green? Please comment below or on my [email protected].