Will Sunday mark the 2016 debut of Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree? I’m not sure, but during his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if last year’s first-round draft pick is in play to be removed from the team’s Reserve/Injured list ahead of Sunday’s road game against the Cleveland Browns.
“He is, but we’ll let preparation be our guide and you know the procedure, his availability and so forth and how we evaluate that performance and availability over the course of the week will be our guide in terms of where we go with that,” Tomlin said.
Dupree has been sidelined for all the regular season after needing surgery this past September to repair a core muscle injury that he had been dealing with dating back to the offseason practices. Because of that injury, he didn’t get a lot of practice time during training camp and ultimately missed all four preseason games.
When and if Dupree makes his 2016 debut, he’ll like be used initially as part of a rotation at left outside linebacker. Tuesday, Tomlin was asked if a rotation will work and his answer was not very surprising.
“Man, that’s a good problem to have,” said Tomlin. “I look forward to having it. Let’s get Bud back first.”
Tomlin should look forward to having that problem and hopefully Dupree can quickly make an impact at left outside linebacker. So far this season, the team’s other four outside linebackers have produced just 14 quarterback hits and 6 total sacks, according to NFL stats. Second-year player Anthony Chickillo leads that group of four players with 2 sacks.
While I have my doubts that Dupree will instantly have an impact as a pass rusher upon his return, at least he figures to get more and more playing time as the rest of the regular season progresses. Being as the Steelers have already missed when it comes to fellow outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, another former first-round draft pick, hopefully Dupree can show us during the final half of the season that he’s a home run selection.