During his Tuesday press conference, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin indicated that he’ll now move forward with a four-man rotation at the outside linebacker position. One of those four players will obviously be second-year linebacker Bud Dupree, who has now played in two games since returning from the team’s Reserve/Injured list.
“If you look at it right now, James [Harrison] is probably going to be in the mix, he has the hot hand as of late,” Tomlin said. “He leads the group and leads us in sacks. Other than that, I imagine Bud [Dupree] is going to be part of the group because we are excited about what he potentially could bring us that we haven’t seen now that he has his health.”
In his weekly interview with Missi Matthews on Steelers Nation Radio, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler talked about what he’s seen out of Dupree so far during his limited playing time.
“Well, he did a good job for us in the Indy game,” Butler said. “He’s still a little rusty from missing the time that he missed. Like I said, this is his second year in the league, he really missed a very important time for him developing during training camp, his second training camp. He missed all that. He might have been in all of the meetings and stuff like that, but getting out there and doing it is different than just going to meetings and trying to learn it. So, he’s still learning and if he makes any mistakes, he’s getting used to doing what we ask him to do within the defense.”
While Dupree only played 20 snaps in the Steelers Thursday night win over the Indianapolis Colts, the team’s 2015 first-round draft pick did manage to register two total tackles in addition to a quarterback hit. He looked fresh and showed quite a bit of hustle as well when it came to running after the football.
Against the Colts, Dupree lined up on both sides of the Steelers defense and that’s likely to continue moving forward and especially if fellow outside linebacker Jarvis Jones winds up being the odd man out of the four-man rotation beginning Sunday in the team’s home game against the New York Giants.
“I played way more than I thought I was going to play, but I was ready for it,” Dupree said this past week, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I just try to let them know that I am ready and I can play more this week if I need to.
“I felt great, just a little bit of rust being on the field. Hopefully, this game will be my game where I can get a lot of snaps and just continue to knock the rust off and make more plays.”
Sunday, the Steelers defense will face a Giants offensive line that has only allowed their quarterback Eli Manning to be sacked 13 times thus far. Because of that, it will be interesting to see if Harrison or Dupree can get any consistent pressure on Manning in that contest. If they can’t, it could wind up being a long day for the Steelers secondary as they’ll be tasked with covering three great wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard.