After an up-and-down rookie campaign, LB Bud Dupree entered his sophomore season with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a trendy candidate to emerge as Pittsburgh's next great pass rusher. The problem with that, however, is the fact that Dupree hasn't practiced since the beginning of August.
Dupree, a former first-round pick from the University of Kentucky, collected four sacks in his first eight games with the Steelers, though he didn't notch a single takedown in Pittsburgh's final eight regular season games or two playoff games. Dupree attributed this drop-off in production to hitting the proverbial rookie wall. In order to prevent a similar scenario from unfolding in his second season, Dupree increased his offseason workout intensity and reduced his caloric intake. As a result, Dupree, who ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the combine despite weighing over 270 pounds, lost almost 20 pounds.
Though the Steelers caught a brief glimpse of the new-and-improved Dupree during the first week of training camp, a groin injury that he suffered during the second week of training camp has kept him in confined to the sidelines.
Since sustaining this injury, Dupree has twice attempted to rejoin his teammates, albeit unsuccessfully. According to Dupree, he hasn't regained his trademark explosiveness.
"I can't be a speed dude and look slow," Dupree told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
The only true remedy for groin strains is time; which, at this point, is beginning to work against Dupree, as the Steelers kick off their regular season Monday, Sept. 12 in Washington.
Dupree, unfortunately, is left without much of a choice in terms of recovery. If he attempts to return to action too soon, he will risk further injuring his groin muscle. A Grade III strain would sideline Dupree for up to eight weeks, while a tear could force him to miss the entire season. Although the extent of Dupree's injury hasn't been yet been disclosed by team officials, the fact that he has already missed two weeks of practice indicates that he is probably dealing with a Grade II strain. If this is indeed the case, Dupree should be ready to play in another week or two.
Should Dupree's injury force him to miss any time in the regular season (which, again, seems unlikely at this point), the Steelers are certainly well-equipped to replace him, as Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo have both been solid throughout training camp and into the regular season. Dupree, who turns 24 one week after Super Bowl LI, is a big part of Pittsburgh's future plans at the outside linebacker position, so it would be foolish to needlessly expedite his recovery.