Dotson: 'Disappointing' he can't compete for tackle job
Demar Dotson, who returns to the Bucs' roster this week after missing three months with a knee injury, said he was told Wednesday morning he won't be competing for the starting right tackle job, a week after Lovie Smith told him he would be in the mix.
"I was told last week that I'd be ... back in the lineup, and I was told this morning I wasn't," Dotson said. "It was tough, especially because I was told I was (starting). They want to keep the continuity of the o-line and all that. It's hard to accept but it's the nature of the business. You kind of want to rely on what somebody tells you, but you realize at the end of the day it's a business."
Smith, speaking in his daily news conference after practice, disagreed with Dotson's account of their conversation, saying he had never promised a starting position to him, as he wouldn't with any player.
"Demar Dotson was told last week that he would be active, that he would be ready to play this week," Smith said. "I don't give out starting positions a week in advance, so I don't know exactly where you got that. He was told he would be active."
The Bucs signed veteran Gosder Cherilus in August after Dotson was injured, and Cherilus has played every snap at right tackle in the first eight games. Tampa Bay went through a similar situation last month at center, where Joe Hawley took over for Evan Smith after an ankle injury and kept the starting job even after Smith returned healthy.
Dotson said the head coach told him he could return to a starting role once healthy, so it was "disappointing" to have that change Wednesday.
"It's a little tough to accept. I was preparing myself to come back and play," Dotson said. "All I know is what I was told today: 'You're not going to be the starting right tackle.'"
The Bucs don't traditionally dress four tackles, so Dotson would now be competing with second-year pro Kevin Pamphile for the backup tackle job, which also is used each week as a sixth offensive lineman and extra blocker in some packages.
"I don't know ," Dotson said. "I just take it day by day. I don't know anything."
Asked about the value of continuity among a unit in making personnel decisions, Smith reiterated that it's a factor in his decision, but not the only factor.
"We're not going to keep something going just for that sake," Smith said. "But if we like what we see when someone has gotten an opportunity to play, and a lot of times that's the case, then we will go with that."