Earlier in the day, we passed along to you the word that Pittsburgh Steelers second-year linebacker Bud Dupree showed up at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe for the start of training camp 20 pounds lighter than he was during his rookie season. Because of that, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked Thursday evening during his first press conference of training camp if he has any concerns about an outside linebacker like Dupree dropping that much weight.
“No,” Tomlin quickly replied. “[Anthony] Chickillo has lost 20 pounds or so since we acquired him. I think what you’re seeing is a lot of times guys come into the professional ranks thinking it’s a big-man’s game and it is a big-man’s game, but more importantly than that, it’s a highly conditioned-man’s game.
“So when you look at second-year players that might be 20 pounds or so lighter than what they were when we first developed our professional relationship with them, it’s just that these guys are showing you that they understand that the level of conditioning required to do their job is much more important than what they weigh from a size standpoint when they step on the scale. Bud Dupree is probably 20 pounds lighter than he was 12 months ago. I know that Chickillo is and you can probably put Jesse James in that category as well. All second-year guys, all have done a lap around the track, all got a base understanding of how important conditioning is and I think their weight is reflective of that.”
While he doesn’t need to lose any weight, Tomlin admitted Thursday that veteran outside linebacker James Harrison will more than likely be managed very closely while the team is in Latrobe for training. For starters, Harrison knows the drill and on top of that, it would be foolish to push him during training camp. Tomlin also knows that properly managing Harrison over the course of the next few weeks will allow several other players on the roster to get much-needed practice time in his absence.
“Young guys like Bud Dupree and Chickillo could use the reps,” said Tomlin.
The Steelers outside linebacker group only recorded 15 total sacks last season and while Dupree had four of them during the first 8 games, he didn’t record another one during the remainder of the season. The fact that he dropped 20 pounds is certainly encouraging but it’s his technique and overall strength that need improvement in his second season, which figures to include him being the team’s starter on the left side.
As for Anthony Chickillo, it will be interesting to watch his development this year during training camp and the preseason as the Miami product saw very little playing time on defense during his rookie year.