The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Does Bud Dupree play, and will he be effective?
After playing in the third preseason game, I think it was generally assumed that all was well on the Bud Dupree front. But he only practiced on a limited basis this past week and did not practice at all on Friday, yet his teammates and his coaches both said that they anticipated he would play.
Last night, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN said in so many words that whether or not he plays is going to be a game-time decision, however. He is officially listed as questionable to play, but of course it’s important to remember that the ‘probable’ distinction was (stupidly) done away with, so questionable no longer means a roughly 50-50 chance to play for many players.
Fowler seems to think it is a toss-up of sorts, however, so we could be looking at a situation in which the Steelers don’t have Dupree to start the season. The third-year outside linebacker has apparently been dealing with a shoulder issue through most of training camp, and one wonders how that will affect him over the course of the season.
The former first-round draft pick has already seen his career hindered by injuries after missing most of his second season a year ago as a result of a sports hernia that required surgery during training camp, and which forced him onto the injured reserve list until after mid-season.
Should Dupree miss the game, it’s not as though the Steelers’ cupboards will be bare. T.J. Watt is expected to start on the right side, but it is possible that he could see significant time on the left in place of Dupree, with James Harrison on the opposite end. Anthony Chickillo and Arthur Moats are also available.
Should he play, it is unclear how he will be affected by the shoulder. He did not appear to be noticeably bothered by it during the one preseason game in which he participated.