On Friday night, Latrobe Memorial Stadium was abuzz, with the classic “under the lights” practice session that Steelers fans have grown accustomed to flocking to each and every year.
That night, the team’s brand new first round pick, outside linebacker Bud Dupree , sat down with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on “Moving the Chains” on Sirius XM Satellite Radio to share his thoughts on his upcoming rookie season.
“Oh everything’s going real good, I’m getting real acclimated to the system, to the practices and the team’s looking good so just got to keep moving forward every day,” Dupree said, when pressed as to his adjustment to the life of an NFL player.
Weighing in at 269 pounds at the combine, the athletic marvel jumped 42.5 inches in the vertical and ran the 40 in a blistering 4.59 but has shown up to camp about 10 pounds lighter, which can only add to his explosiveness.
“Definitely I feel way better,” Dupree said on Sirius.
He said he wants to continue to lean out even more, hoping to add to his speed. “It’ll help me out in the game and in the long run for the long season.” It’s also noteworthy that losing the weight didn’t seem to be an issue for him, unlike another former high draft pick at outside linebacker named Woodley, who ate himself out of Pittsburgh.
While some rookies may come in with their head filled with their heads held high with arrogance, that’s not the case with Dupree. At a position the Steelers franchise has always held a premium on, one would assume this may be the case, and the rookie does know what’s expected of him. But as far as any pressure, he wouldn’t hint at that.
“Really I don’t want to say I feel pressure but I know there’s expectations from me, being a first round pick, to come in here and play right away,” Dupree said on Sirius.
One thing that he feels will help in his learning curve is the fact that at Kentucky under coach Mark Stoops, he played in a very similar scheme to the one he’s immersed in right now in training camp so his skill sets should translate well. Currently working with the second unit behind Arthur Moats at left outside linebacker, it wouldn’t be a total surprise come late in the season to see Dupree in the starting lineup. He’s that talented, although he seemed to vanish at times at Kentucky.
One of his favorite parts of camp thus far was the backs on ‘backers, and he admitted to liking the physical nature of it, something that should make the hard-nosed fans of the franchise smile, as they’ve grown accustomed to smash mouth football, with freight train running backs and linebackers who’d back down from anybody.
“It was a great competition and a lot of physicality,” Dupree said. “My quickness off the edge, I try to get off the ball as fast as I can and sometimes I go untouched.”
This is a sight that hopefully comes to fruition this season, as Dupree is likely to be eased into game action on passing downs to use his cat-like quickness off the edge.
He admitted one of the toughest players he’s squared off against in camp is none other than the franchise itself, Big Ben Roethlisberger and his rifle arm.
“Ben, he throws the ball on a line every time, it’s always a perfect ball,” Dupree said. “If you’re out of position he’ll make you pay.”
The nature of the interview went very upbeat when Dupree was asked about when it first hit him that he was a member of such a storied franchise.
“It was a great feeling standing in the locker room with a Steeler helmet on and seeing guys like James Harrison and all those guys, it just made me realize that I’m really on the Steelers,” he said.
Another outside linebacker in particular they mentioned looking good in his coverage drops was Jarvis Jones, who also looks like he’s added some weight if a recent photo on Instagram is an indicator. If the light finally comes on in year 3 for him, coupled with Dupree, this unit could finally restore the roar that’s been lacking the past few seasons as sack numbers have dwindled to very un-Pittsburgh territories.