When Pittsburgh Steelers second-year outside linebacker Bud Dupree arrived at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe for the start of training camp on Thursday he was reportedly 20 pounds lighter than he was during his rookie season. While Dupree’s offseason weight loss was probably noticeable to the naked eye, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler noticed it in another way during the team’s first practice on Friday.
“We saw him move yesterday. He moved pretty good yesterday, so we’ll see how he moves when he gets pads on and see how he adjust,” Butler said in a Saturday interview that was aired on Steelers Nation Radio. “I’m glad that he’s in good shape. I know that, he’s in good shape and he left us after we got through with OTAs and got through our minicamp and he came back in great shape. So I’m excited about that for him.”
Dupree, who recorded 4 sacks during the team’s first 8 games of 2015, admitted during the offseason that he hit the proverbial rookie wall. That likely played a role in him failing to record a single sack during the second half of the season.
“I just was not being used to playing that many games,” Dupree said over a month ago, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It took a toll on my body. Now I’m more prepared for that. I’ve been training longer, doing different things that I didn’t have the time to do coming from college.”
As he enters his second season with the Steelers, Dupree should also have a better understanding of the defense and Butler is counting on that helping the former first first-round draft pick out of Kentucky in 2016.
“He’s just got to keep learning the defense and he’s got a good idea what he’s doing right now,” Butler said Friday. “I look for him to have some pretty good improvement this year for us and help us out. It will be an easier game for him when he breaks a huddle and he figures out what the call is. It will be easier for him to adjust and do what he’s supposed to do.”
Developing a better arsenal of pass rush moves is yet another thing Dupree will need to work on during his second season. A short time ago, soon-to-be Hall of Famer and former Steelers outside linebacker Kevin Greene talked extensively about what it takes to be a great pass rusher in the league and on Friday, Butler was asked to comment on what he had to say even though he never heard the interview.
“I think if you talked to Kevin Greene he knows more about that I do,” Butler quipped. “Yes, they need to have a couple of moves and I think Joey [Porter] would tell you that same thing. They need to have a couple of moves, what we call go-to moves, and that was what he was referring to I’m sure when he talked about it. But he’s got to have go-to moves that he’s going to use in certain situations where he’s not even thinking about it. It just comes up and he naturally does it. Usually good pass rushers have one or two moves like that that they can use when they’re not even thinking. Everything happens so fast.”
On Sunday, the Steelers will hold their first padded practice of 2016 and that session is expected to include the first back-on-backers contests of training camp. Dupree figures to take part in the annual fan favorite drill and if so, he’ll get an opportunity to work on some of his moves against running backs and tight ends in addition to also getting plenty of opportunities to show them against tackles during 11-on-11 drills.