The Pittsburgh Steelers defense suffered a huge blow Wednesday night when Bud Dupree left the game with one of those dreaded non-contact knee injuries.
Fans hoped for the best, but the news was the worst. Dupree tore his ACL, ending his season. Mike Tomlin confirmed the injury during his weekly press conference Thursday, and that meant the Steelers had a roster spot open.
The team decided to fill that spot with rookie safety Antoine Brooks Jr.
Brooks has been a player who has bounced back and forth from the active roster to the practice squad, but this usually is for players coming and going off the NFL’s Reserve/COVID-19 List. This time Brooks’ stay will likely be permanent. Brooks was a practice squad elevation in Week 8, even though he never saw the field, and again in Week 9 where he played five special team snaps. Brooks was a Covid elevation in Week 10 where he played 47% of the defensive snaps against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brooks was a Covid elevation again in Week 12, but this time was on the inactive list for the game Wednesday.
Dupree’s injury is the second season-ending injury to a star player on the defense. Earlier this season the team lost Devin Bush to a torn ACL, ending his second year almost before it even started.
Dupree’s absence will leave a huge void. His 8 sacks are second on the team only to T.J. Watt, and the team will turn to a combination of Alex Highsmith and Ola Adeniyi to soften the blow of Dupree’s injury.
As for Brooks, he will try to carve a role out for himself on special teams, and as a box linebacker/safety in sub packages.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes sure of the Steelers as they prepare for the Washington Football Team at Heinz Field in Week 13.