You will recall recently that Pittsburgh Steelers second-year outside linebacker Bud Dupree has been spotted quite a bit during OTAs on the perimeter of drills rather than in participating in them, sidelined with what he classified as simply a “tissue” injury with all the vagary you would expect surrounding a minor ailment around this time of year.
The team’s 2015 first-round draft pick and already a key player in their defensive rotation, Dupree is expected to enter his first full season as a starter and likely take a comfortable majority of the snaps at the left outside linebacker position as he hopes to improve upon his four sacks that he accrued during his rookie year.
Ordinarily, a young player, particularly a young player with a reputation for entering the league as a raw athlete, stands to benefit the most from spring drills, and when such a player fails to participate in them, there is often a certain level of concern about whether or not he might fall behind in his learning curve.
Many have raised their concerns about Dupree’s performance as a rookie, having been particularly critical about his struggle to present effective counter moves on his pass rush, often stalling out after his first move fails to get him into the backfield. This was a major area that he was expected to work on this offseason.
While he might have been missing some time during OTAs, however, he is expected to be on the field during minicamp beginning tomorrow before the team heads off for about a month or so before training camp opens in Latrobe toward the end of July.
And more importantly, according to Joey Porter, his position coach, he has actually demonstrated, at least in some aspects, that he has already come a long way with respect to the mental aspect of the game, as he spoke highly of his prized apprentice recently during OTAs.
As communicated by Mike Prisuta for the team’s website in an article posted yesterday, the former Steelers linebacker told reporters that Dupree “has had time to look at the stuff he did last year and he can judge himself where he is now”.
Even Dupree appears to be surprised by where he is now, as Porter went on to say that Dupree told him he never thought he would be able to help somebody else learn the position, yet that appears to be what he has been doing while sidelined with an injury.
“That shows how far along he has come with this defense”, his coach said. “He feels comfortable enough to give the other guys some knowledge of the game”.
That is certainly an encouraging bit of insight to a slice of practice that we often don’t get exposed to very much, and is particularly so given the sort of reputation that he had coming into the league as needing a year or two of learning. Of course, it will be another thing entirely to see how learning translated onto the field.