The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: What kind of impact might Bud Dupree have in his first game back on the field?
I know, I know, it’s too many questions about Bud Dupree. But he is on the 53-man roster now, and he was activated yesterday because the Steelers intend for him to play today. In just a few hours, chances are, he is going to be seeing his first snaps of the season. So even though we just asked a question about him a couple days ago, this one is particularly relevant, and I think the biggest question leading into the game.
The Steelers drafted Dupree in the first round of last year’s draft with an eye toward him becoming not just their star pass rusher, but a core piece of the defense. A sports hernia injury that he has dealt with for most of this year has badly halted his progress, however.
So we know we’re not going to be getting a Dupree who is going to have a dominant impact off the bench today. We are not even going to be getting a Dupree who is picking up where he left off last season, most likely, a rookie campaign that still left a lot to be desired.
But he could be used as a situational pass rusher with some effect. With the Steelers increasing their usage of the blitz over the course of the past couple of games, his pure athleticism could provide him with an advantage to win in a situation that puts him in an opportunity to make a play, if they scheme it right.
Now, he probably isn’t going to be at his peak level of fitness, although he has said that he is in a good place in terms of conditioning. Even with that said, it will take some time before he is in football shape, which only happens through actually playing football.
Anthony Chickillo and Arthur Moats have been splitting the left outside linebacker position in his absence. They will undoubtedly log the vast majority of the snaps there, with Dupree getting a sliver of work. What he does with that sliver is going to be scrutinized heavily over the coming days.