The Pittsburgh Steelers did not have their starting outside linebackers out on the field for the first week of the preseason. Was with other veterans and players dealing with minor issues or working their way back from them, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree both watched as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks were brought down by the likes of Tuzar Skipper, J.T. Jones, and Ulysees Gilbert III.
They joined in on the action in the backfield last night, with both starters able to generate pressure. While Watt’s was more in the vein of influencing the play, Dupree picked up a pair of sacks as he heads into his fifth season, under his option year on his rookie contract as a former first-round pick.
“I thought they brought great energy”, Head Coach Mike Tomlin said last night following his team’s 17-7 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. “I thought they were productive. That was a good, good representation of them, I thought”.
Dupree’s first sack of the night came in the middle of the first quarter, after Patrick Mahomes had already checked out following something like 10 snaps of playing time. on third and four, the veteran broke inside between the left guard and tackle as Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt—neither of whom played last week—collapsed the edges of the pocket. Even Mahomes would have had a hard time getting out of that. It was a stunt that the Chiefs failed to pick up.
Dupree’s second sack of Chad Henne came just after the two-minute warning with Kansas City at the Steelers’ 12. He just cleanly beat the left tackle, that being none other than Cameron Erving, with a quick punch and dip around the edge.
While Dupree got the sacks, however, Watt got into the backfield a handful of times, registering some hits. His first pressure came three minutes into the game, beating Mitchell Schwartz with a dip and bend of his own. Mahomes was forced to throw a deep ball early that was too long for Tyreek Hill.
At the top of the first quarter, on third and 14, Watt got pressure again on was developing screen pass that forced a rushed throw, which Dupree batted down incomplete. He would get another pressure late in the first half working against rookie Dino Boyd, perhaps even getting a piece of the ball. He beat Boyd again several plays later, getting a hit on a ball thrown too long into the end zone.
If the Steelers can get that sort of work out of their starting outside linebackers this season, they should be in good shape. Of course, they won’t be playing against backups, at least most likely, in the games that count.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 18, 2019