The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their training camp sessions since 1966. While the vast majority of the legwork of building the 90-man roster is done, there is always some fine tinkering to do. Now it’s time to figure out who is worthy of a roster spot, and what their role will be.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they’re bound to have new starters.
How will those position groups sort themselves out? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in practice? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will Bud Dupree actually show a meaningful improvement in 2019?
I know, this is a question that gets asked every year. But this is probably the last chance we get to ask it, since he will most likely be on another team in 2020. Bud Dupree is entering his fifth season and hasn’t yet produced numbers worthy of a first-round draft pick, in spite of the fact that he actually is not a bad player, as many argue.
The 2015 first-round pick is coming off a preseason performance in which he recorded two sacks, one that was produced via an inside stunt and another on which he cleanly beat the left tackle, although the left tackle at the time was a backup. The technique and bend that he showed on that play was strong, and those things don’t care about who you’re going against.
If there is one thing to be encouraged about, outside of his health, it’s all the talk that we’re hearing, both from Dupree and others, but the understanding that his mental game, particularly in the pass rush, has to be taken to another level. That has held him back more than any other single factor.
Earlier in the week, he said that he was going to be working on different pass-rushing techniques each game throughout the preseason, and he also displayed an awareness of the importance of ‘setting up’ pass rushes, something that hasn’t always been clear he understands or is capable of managing in the past.
This is his last chance, at least with the Steelers, to show that change. This is also the first year that he’s working with Keith Butler (as well as Karl Dunbar) rather than Joey Porter as his position coach. Will this yield better results, or more of the same? I’m expecting pessimistic answers to this one, but a mild improvement, personally, would not surprise me. I could see a 10-sack season with middling pressure rates.