After registering 4 sacks and 26 total tackles during his rookie season, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree will be expected to improve immensely in his second year and that should happen be a result of a complete understanding of the defense. Last week, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler talked to the media about Dupree’s development and the expectations he has for him in 2016.
“I am encouraged by him,” Butler said, according to Teresa Varley of steelers.com. “When we went to see him before we drafted him, I talked to him a lot about defense, what we expected from him, from our outside linebackers. They had done a lot of stuff at Kentucky that was similar to what we had done, had copied a lot of stuff that we had done defensively. Some of the things he was doing at the time, he was going to be doing here too.
“The concepts he had to learn, the overall defense, he got an idea about but he was just trying to learn his position. When you come into the league as a young player the first thing you want to do is figure out what I am doing, then I will learn what everybody else is doing. He is going to transition into that stage knowing what everyone else on defense is doing, so he’ll know where his help is. As a consequence, he will be able to stay in position to make more plays.”
Dupree, who we all hope is able to participate in the team’s mandatory minicamp this week after missing practice time during the OTA sessions due to a soft tissue injury, has admitted recently to hitting the proverbial rookie wall last year and that’s not overly surprising. Even so, the Kentucky product still managed to claim the starting left outside linebacker spot during the second half of the 2015 regular season and wound up playing 50.7% of all defensive snaps in the process. That percentage is obviously expected to increase in 2016 and the stats should follow suit.
“I am able to go out there and refresh my memory,” said Dupree. “I am able to see how I improved, see how I picked up all the plays, see how my skill set has improved. Everything like that is really valuable for me. It all helped me get ready for this minicamp.”
While the Steelers managed to register 47 sacks as a team last season, only 15 of them came from the outside linebacker position and that collective number needs to grow in 2016. Additionally, Dupree failed to register a single sack during the second half of the 2015 season.
A double-digit sack season in 2016 would be huge for Dupree and that’s something we haven’t seen a Pittsburgh outside linebacker do since James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley recorded 10.5 and 10 in 2010 respectively. The Steelers went to the Super Bowl that season and anything short of that this year would be a major disappointment.