The transition to the NFL isn't always an easy one, and Pittsburgh Steelers rookie OLB Bud Dupree is finding that very fact out the hard way this preseason. Dupree has played significant snaps, including snaps with the first team defense, but has yet to make a play which resembles the "splash plays" head coach Mike Tomlin covets.
It isn't for a lack of trying why Dupree hasn't made the plays, sometimes it is as simple as the plays not presenting themselves.
"Things are working," Dupree told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I just haven't been in a position to make many plays."
Some might argue being in position is part of the job when being an every down OLB in the NFL, but it isn't just Dupree who sees things are working, but also the Steelers offensive line. The same players who went against him on a daily basis in training camp, and the same players Dupree fought in the waning days at Saint Vincent College.
"He's a guy who's getting better every day and bringing a little edge to him. That's what we like to see, obviously not the fighting but bringing the nastiness to his position. He's just going to get better every day." Left tackle Marcus Gilbert said.
"He's just a young kid just coming up," Gilbert noted. "He's getting better every day. I like what I see from him. He has to keep [bringing] it every day."
The linemen have gone as far as helping Dupree with some "tricks of the trade" on how to beat some of the high end tackles in the NFL. As Dupree is finding out, it is more difficult than one might think.
"We go against some of the top pass rushers every weekend," Gilbert said. "We see it, so we try to give him little details, insight, what he can improve, what's not working for him and what he can get better at."
Training camp is in the team's rear view mirror, and Dupree is looking to accelerate his improvement against the Green Bay Packers Sunday when they come to Heinz Field for the Steelers' third preseason game of 2015. The Steelers have yet to win a game, but Dupree has also been mainly ineffective in his rookie preseason debut.
The job won't get easier on Sunday as Dupree will be going against right tackle Bryan Bulaga, a man who is considered one of the best right tackles in the NFL.
"We watched film on him ... trying to find a weakness," Dupree said.
Does Bulaga have an apparent weakness according to Dupree?
"No he doesn't."
A difficult task for the young outside linebacker, but also a place to hang his hat if he is able to finally break through and be a significant player for a defense starving for playmakers at every position. Dupree is a work-in-progress, but a little success Sunday could expedite Dupree's progression tremendously as the team prepares for the regular season.