Steelers: Bud Dupree looks to rebound against Indianapolis
After waiting patiently for ten weeks, Pittsburgh Steelers’ outside linebacker Bud Dupree made his first professional start last weekend against the Seahawks.
Coming off of their bye week looking to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Steelers’ brass decided to place their trust in this year’s first round draft pick over veteran Arthur Moats. Moats, who proved to be invaluable to the Steelers’ depleted linebacker corps in 2014, has not displayed much to prove he is a better fit for a starting position than his rookie counterpart.
Dupree’s first outing as a starter left much to be desired from the talented rookie. Expected to take advantage of his new role against an offensive line that had been known to give up sacks all season long, the Steelers’ linebackers failed to register a single sack on Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson. Though he nearly managed to bring down the agile signal caller, Dupree was limited to a single tackle in the contest.
Now that Dupree finally has his starting position it’s time that he take full advantage of it. He leads all of his fellow linebackers in sacks with a total of four, but has not brought down an opposing quarterback since week eight against the Cincinnati Bengals. If Dupree wishes to distinquish himself from the rest of the linebackers on the roster, he must look and play as if he is a future star on the Steelers’ defense.
It all begins with the Steelers’ Sunday night primetime matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. Dupree is no stranger to the entire nation having their watchful eye on him. Two of his four sacks this season have occurred during primetime games against the New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers. If this trend continues the rookie linebacker is in for a productive game.
With injuries rampant throughout the ranks of the Colts’ offense, it will be difficult to predict who will be defending quarterback Matt Hasselbeck against Dupree on Sunday night. If Anthony Castonzo is sidelined once again with a knee injury, Jack Mewhort will most likely be moved to the right tackle position while Joe Reitz is shifted to left tackle.
Although Mewhort has started multiple games along the offensive line in his two years in the league, he is the least experienced among his peers. Dupree is by no means a seasoned veteran, but this could give him an advantage when it comes to hunting down the quarterback. If the Steelers’ secondary continues to play as poorly as they have in the past, the front seven must compensate with constant pressure to keep Hasselbeck from taking shots downfield to T.Y. Hilton or Donte Moncrief.
If Dupree is to become the breakthrough linebacker the Steelers envision him to be, he cannot be limited to only pass rushing. His run defense has improved over the course of the season, but must be fine tuned in order to compete with the growing talent of running backs that have surged through the NFL in recent years. Indianapolis’ premiere running back offers him a challenge to accomplish just that.
After a decade of success in San Francisco’s backfield, Frank Gore signed with the Colts to bring some stability to their running back position. Though he is in danger of failing to record a one thousand rushing yard season for the first time since 2010, the veteran halfback has displayed on more than one occasion that he is still a dangerous opponent. Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano may describe him as “beat to crap”, but he is not to be taken lightly.
For the first time in two years, Steelers’ Nation has reason to be excited for a first round draft pick in their rookie season. Jarvis Jones‘ failure to make an impact and Ryan Shazier‘s constant battle with injury has left a sour taste when it comes to how much to expect from highly selected draft picks in the rookie seasons. Bud Dupree offers hope that the organization is capable of continuing to make great selections that will aid the team as a whole for years to come.
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Dupree has a long road ahead of him to be considered among the great in history of Steelers’ linebackers that the organization has built in its over eighty years of existence, but it can begin here in his second career start as Pittsburgh battles its way through the remainder of the 2015 season in an attempt to keep its playoff hopes alive as January draws continuously close.