Pittsburgh Steelers second-year outside linebacker T.J. Watt hit the critical 10-sack milestone last week, the first at his position for the team to do so since 2010. Now Bud Dupree wants to get there as well before the end of the season. The fourth-year edge rusher is still sitting on four and a half sacks through 10 games, so he has a busy schedule ahead of him over the final month and a half.
He knows that he has been too close too many other times this season, however. “I know everythingv” that he missed, he said. “There were some holding calls and I had some clean beats. I missed Cam [Newton}, I missed [Blake] Bortles, and I missed [Patrick] Mahomes”. He also recalled the safety that he forced against the Cleveland Browns when he was held in the end zone that could otherwise have been a sack.
Dupree is also acutely aware of the fact that the Steelers are about to face the leading sack tandem in the NFL, the Denver Broncos being the only team that can boast having two players with at least nine sacks on the year, those being Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb.
“I know if I made all of my sacks this year, we’d be at 10 and nine right now, too. We’re definitely competing to be in the top race with [Miller] and Chubb. At the end of the season, we want to be talked about just like them as well”.
Miller happens to be one of the modern-day pass rushers that Dupree most turns to as an example of what he looks to do from a technique standpoint. “I emulate his first step a lot””, he said. “I take pride in my speed and get-out, so I watch him and the stuff he does and how he attacks the linemen and try to put it in my game as well”.
It’s also worth noting that they both work with pass-rushing specialist trainer Chuck Smith in the offseason.
Dupree’s season-high sack total is six, a number that he reached last season in 15 games, and he is a sack and a half away from tying that this year with six games to play. But he is looking to sail past that.
After all, he is in something of a contract year, as the Steelers have to decide in the offseason whether or not to carry him on his fifth-year option salary, and it’s hard to imagine anything less than something around 10 sacks would do the trick.
With time running low, he’ll want to get a jump start against Broncos left tackle Garrett Bolles, who has only allowed two sacks so far this season with about two pressures per game. Dupree did not record a sack in the last game, but does have at least half a sack in each of the two prior to that.