Pittsburgh Steelers second-year outside linebacker Bud Dupree sort of made his 2016 Sunday in the team’s win over the Cleveland Browns. In other words, he played just one defensive snap. After addressing why Dupree didn’t see the field more during the game against the Browns during his post-game press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spoke on the topic again during his Monday session with the media.
“We wanted to minimize his exposure to the game,” said Tomlin. “We didn’t want fatigue and things of that nature to become a factor in his first time out, much like we didn’t want that with Ladarius Green one week prior. The game circumstance had something to do even with that plan. I think we had only 14 snaps defensively in the first half, and so that limited the total number of opportunities and thus limited (Dupree’s) opportunities.
“As the game wore on, we just stayed with the guys who were playing. We didn’t want (Dupree) to have to warm up again. We’ll keep moving forward with him as he continues to work his way back. We’ve been pleased with his progress, and he’s going to be a contributor to us.”
Being as the Steelers are now on a short week preparing for their Thursday night road game against the Indianapolis Colts, you really have to wonder just how many snaps Dupree will ultimately wind up playing in that game. Remember, he missed nearly all of training camp in addition to all four preseason games as a result of his core muscle injury. Additionally, a few Steelers coaches have hinted that it might take last year’s first-round draft pick a little time to get back up to speed with the defense.
While I do expect Dupree to wind up playing more than one snap Thursday night against the Colts, I’m not expecting him to play more than 15 in total as he’s likely to be slowly worked into some sort of rotation with fellow outside linebackers Anthony Chickillo and Arthur Moats.
Look at how the Steelers are slowly working tight end Ladarius Green back into the offense. He’s played a total of 20 snaps since being activated to the team’s 53-man roster.
Yes, Dupree will likely be a contributor on defense for the Steelers at some point late in the season, but with that said, I really think he’s still a few weeks away from playing the bulk of the snaps on the left side of the defense. We’ll see.