The Pittsburgh Steelers set a new franchise sack record in 2017, but a lot of those sacks came from the interior of the defense, not from the classic bookend outside linebackers. In fact, T.J. Watt contributed 7 as a rookie, with Bud Dupree cashing in for 6.
13 combined sacks isn’t horrible, but almost everyone likely expected more from Dupree coming into his third year and with a 5th-year option weighing on his mind.
As the 2018 Organized Team Activities (OTAs) begin Tuesday, it seems as if Keith Butler and Mike Tomlin are looking to shake things up a bit. Not with personnel, but mainly with Dupree and Watt’s positions.
For the first time in his NFL career, the team had Dupree lined up on the right side, going against the left tackle.
Bud Dupree said he was taking reps at RIGHT OLB during minicamp. But he implied not to look too much into it. "We gotta play both sides, and this is a good time of year to do it."— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 22, 2018
(corrected tweet, I'm dyslexic)
Bud Dupree said that he played ROLB for the first time in his pro career at today's first OTA but he expects to play both sides.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 22, 2018
When the team drafted Watt in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, he was touted for his versatility. He can play both the right and left sides on the defensive front. If Dupree can do the same, the defense can be even more versatile than they were a year ago.
Talk about beating a dead horse, but the Steelers are no longer your standard 3-4 defense. They aren’t a 4-3 defense either. They are a sub-package defense focusing on nickel, dime and other exotic looks designed to confuse the opposition. Having Dupree and Watt being able to play both sides will give them more options, and hopefully will make the defense more effective.
Take a look at what else went down at the first day of OTAs Tuesday...
Players come and go every year across the NFL, but you rarely hear about those players who left for a new team, or who left to become free agents but remain unsigned. The latter would certainly be the case with linebacker Arthur Moats.
Moats was not retained after last season, and he’s currently an unrestricted free agent. As for Bud Dupree, he misses Moats being around.
Bud Dupree, on how '18 differs from '17:— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 22, 2018
"Man, (Arthur) Moats is gone, man. That hurts us in the locker room. It was a big loss; Moats is a great player-- but more than that, he's just a great person, just being around him everyday cheers you up. But it happens, comings & goings"
Moats was a great teammate and probably a better person. Fans shouldn’t sleep on the chance the Steelers will bring back Moats. The team has options, and the longer Moats goes unsigned, the cheaper the price tag would be to retain him.
Bostic runs with the 2s
Jon Bostic, one of the prized free-agent acquisitions for the Steelers this offseason, wasn’t running with the starters on Day 1 of OTAs. Rather, it was Tyler Matakevich alongside Vince Williams according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic:
Jon Bostic ran with the second team today behind Tyler Matakevich. Said he wasn't told if he will switch day-to-day or even week-to-week during the next 4 weeks. Didn't seem too fazed. @TheAthleticPGH— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) May 22, 2018
Fans shouldn’t jump to conclusions with this news — rather, let Bostic get acclimated to his new environment.
New No. 92
As Chris Adamski of the Tribune-Review noted...this is just weird.
One of the strangest sights of Steelers OTA No. 1:— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) May 22, 2018
After years in which it appeared at any moment ready for a Hulk-like bursting at the seams, the gold No. 92 jersey looked about two sizes too big for undrafted rookie Olasunkanmi Adeniyi
Steelers quarterback line at the beginning of OTAs: Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones, Josh Dobbs, Mason Rudolph pic.twitter.com/ZGA4oCH6uV— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 22, 2018