Bud Dupree Wants to ‘Hurt Somebody’ Every Play

After impressive preseason half, Steelers OLB wants consistency on edge

Josh Rowntree
August 19, 2019 - 2:38 pm

Four lackluster seasons have pushed Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree into the final year of his contract, with no extension in sight. For now.  

Dupree was tremendous in Pittsburgh’s second preseason game, racking up two sacks, three quarterback hits and a pass defensed in just one half of action. 

But now Dupree, a former first-round pick out of Kentucky who will make over $9.2 million on a fifth-year option, wants to take that leap into the realm of premier pass rushers and thinks he's grasped what it might take.

“Just working hard,” Dupree said Monday, as the team practiced on the South Side for the first time since training camp broke Thursday. “Knowledge of the game, just taking that aspect another step in the above-the-neck game and just going out and actually executing.”

The mental execution seems to be where Dupree, an impressive athlete at 6-foot-4, 269 pounds, might need the biggest jump. 

Quite frequently over his time in Pittsburgh, he has not been able to execute a variety of moves and that is not a result of a lack of ability, but a lack of creativity. That might be changing. 

“I just see him as more of a complete rusher,” defensive end Cam Heyward said. “Hopefully that shows during the regular season, as well. We all know Bud is a speed demon, but he has that physicality and he’s just showing it more. I want to make sure he’s able to show it more.”

Dupree confirmed that he has added pass rush moves to his arsenal, but is not willing to share what they are outside of the field. What he did show in Pittsburgh’s 17-7 win over Kansas City Saturday was the ability to rush inside on stunt blitzes with Heyward, something that has eluded Dupree through the last four years.

“It means a lot, just being able to capitalize on the chances I get and go out, each week, and try to make it another stepping stone in improvement,” he said.

“If he wants to come inside, all we have to do is communicate,” Heyward added. “We’re just working on our communication a lot more. This is our second year together on the same side, so we’re looking for even better results.”

Dupree has a solid, if not terrific young player on the other side in outside linebacker T.J. Watt. Developing an exceptional pass rush tandem could put the Steelers defense over the top. 

“I did good all of camp, just working on different stuff,” Dupree said. “I’m trying to make sure me and T.J. (Watt) are on the same page as far as if he does a speed rush, I make sure I’m not doing a speed rush so we’re not both behind the quarterback.”

And that has been Dupree’s biggest issue. He’s big, fast and athletic, but has lacked the bend to get around tackles, frequently getting pushed behind the pocket and, essentially, out of the play. The hope is, with the addition of a strong inside rush, tackles will struggle to handle his versatility.

“We did a good preview but we’ll continue into the season,” he said of Saturday's performance with Watt, who also played the entire first half. “When the regular season comes we’ll make sure to give it everything we’ve got. And it’ll be fun.”

The Steelers made a commitment at inside linebacker this offseason, drafting Devin Bush in the first round and acquiring Mark Barron in free agency. The secondary was bolstered with the signing of cornerback Steven Nelson. The defensive line is one of the NFL’s best three-man fronts with Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave. 

Because of that, the pieces are in place for Pittsburgh’s defense to take a massive leap forward this season. And Dupree must be a big part of that.

“It’s the mindset,” Dupree said. “Nothing has changed, the schematics are the same. Now it’s just the people in the position, to make sure we go out and actually execute each play, and have that meaning about ourselves to go out and hurt somebody every play.”

Hear all of what Bud Dupree had to say below.