As fans, often times all that is talked about and discussed are results. When you throw rookies into the conversation it can become dicey as their results are certainly not mind-blowing. With the two rookie outside linebackers for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bud Dupree and Anthony Chickillo, the learning curve from college to the NFL has certainly been noticeable, but when you listen to their teammates and position coach, all is not lost for these young players.
Through two preseason games Dupree has accounted for 2 solo tackles and 1 assist, equating to 3 total tackles. Chickillo has accounted for 2 solo tackles. That is the end of the stat sheet for the rookies after two games, but all is not lost for the duo.
"They're going to be some headhunters. They've got professional type bodies, they're very smart and Coach Porter is doing a great job of implementing the system to them. And mentally because they got the physical attributes." Jarvis Jones told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"They're not making any mental errors. They're definitely working on things and getting better everyday. They're getting off the ball fast and making sure their games are well-rounded." OLB Arthur Moats added.
As for their position coach, Joey Porter talked about putting pressure on the young linebackers.
"I don't put pressure on them because I know what they are - they're rookies. Now what they did in college and what we are going to ask you do to here is totally different; it's going to be greatly different. What you did in college was good, because it was college. But this is you're playing for your livelihood now; you're playing for a whole different reason - we're chasing world championships here. And they're going to be scrutinized enough by the media to where I don't have to. They'll know where they fit by how they play. And they know the legacy (of Steelers' outside linebackers) they came into. And they know what the job they signed up for is. And the pressure that you guys put on them is going to be enough; I don't have to add no extra pressure to them. I just try to tell them, ‘Just play football and play it hard."
It is difficult to evaluate young players like Dupree and Chickillo with such limited repetitions, but it is clear to see the two haven't had the smoothest transitions to the professional level. Chickillo, who started out as the training camp darling, hasn't been as productive as many hoped in game action, and Dupree hasn't shown the burst which made him the top overall draft pick for the Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft. Often times the mental aspect of the game can slow down the physical aspect.
Despite fans often unfair expectations for rookies coming into the NFL, people within the Steelers organization seem pleased with where these two rookie outside linebackers are currently in terms of their progression. It may not have shown on the stat sheet yet, but certainly could in time.
The transition from the college game to the NFL isn't an easy one, and Anthony Chickillo and Bud Dupree are experiencing this first hand. The next logical question for the preseason remains: Which player will have their break out party first?