I don’t know what got to Pittsburgh Steelers rookie outside linebacker Bud Dupree yesterday, or if it could even be pinpointed to just one thing, but something certainly set him off in practice yesterday over a period of several minutes in a situation that only resolved itself with head coach Mike Tomlin physically removing him from a drill.
And it’s hard to know what to make of it, really, or if there is anything to be made out of it. Even the veteran beat writers on hand to witness the series of events have said that they have seen nothing quite like how it all went down in their time covering the game.
Certainly, I would be more than hesitant to ascribe any negative traits upon Dupree for this incident, especially without knowing the full context of how it developed. Perhaps, in the long run, it’s a good sign that it would get so fired up over whatever initially caused him to go off.
Perhaps it was, at least in part, a release of frustration over what can be fairly characterized as a difficult rookie offseason. I would not use the term disappointment, however, because it was known when he was drafted that it would take him time to develop certain qualities that he lacked at the collegiate level.
Given his status as a first-round draft pick, even absent the expectation of becoming an immediate starter, I’m sure that Dupree is feeling a significant amount of pressure to perform, and no doubt is also hearing some of the criticism that has been written about him in the national media that have put those expectations on him.
So many immediately following the first round of the draft immediately sought to write Dupree in as an opening-day starter, but those who knew his background, and the Steelers’ actual situation at linebacker, knew that that was a longshot, and certainly not a need.
Yes, Dupree is expected to contribute as a rookie even if he doesn’t end up starting any games. But the pressure placed on him to perform is greater than the reality of the situation, and I suspect that much of that pressure that he faces is self-induced.
It would seem that Dupree took umbrage to some type of slight from a veteran offensive lineman during drills, perhaps a habitual occurrences that simply happened one time too many on the wrong day. Things escalated quickly from there.
And it wouldn’t even be fair to say that cooler heads prevailed, given that the hostilities continued later in a separate drill, and only ended with Tomlin’s intervention. As far as interpersonal relations go, I’m sure it’s all water under the bridge by now, or if not, will be soon.
But it would seem, acknowledging that this is speculation, that Dupree is feeling the pressure to perform and becoming frustrated in his inability to do so. And as long as he manages to harness that and channel it in the right direction, then it could only make him a better player for it.