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Dupree, Chickillo a one-two punch

Posted Sep 13, 2017

Depth at outside linebacker apparent in the early going.

Outside linebacker Bud Dupree was limited in practice today but optimistic about his potential availability for Sunday’s home opener against the Minnesota Vikings.

“I should be able to play,” Dupree said.

Outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo doesn’t know if he’ll start in Dupree’s spot again this Sunday but vowed to be ready just in case, just as Chickillo had been in last Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns.

“Whenever my number’s called, I feel like I always have myself in a position where I’m ready to play,” Chickillo said.

Chickillo could hardly have been more ready against the Browns.

His eighth career NFL start was highlighted by his first career touchdown at the conclusion of the Browns’ first possession (Chickillo fell on the ball in the end zone after inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich had blocked a punt) and a sack registered the second time the Browns got their hands on the ball.

Less than five minutes had elapsed when Chickillo brought Cleveland quarterback DeShone Kizer to the ground, not quite enough time, perhaps, for Chickillo to have even broken into a good sweat yet.

“It happened quick,” Chickillo admitted. “I sweat a lot so I think I was sweating.”

Dupree isn’t sweating Chickillo’s ability to fill in again against the Vikings if necessary.

“He’s a relentless rusher, keeps going, great motor,” Dupree said.

Chickillo finished with two sacks in Cleveland (just shy of the 2.5 he collected in his first two seasons, all last season), evidence that he’s continuing to make strides in his progression from college defensive lineman to NFL outside linebacker.

“Right from when they drafted me, that’s when the transition started,” the former sixth-round pick in 2015 recalled. “Even before then, I kinda always figured this is what I would play in the NFL, outside linebacker.

“I feel really good. I feel in shape.”

Dupree, the Steelers’ first-round selection in the 2015 draft, said the Steelers erred on the side of caution in keeping him out of the Browns game.

“In the playoffs I would have played,” he said.

Dupree also isn’t sweating any fallout from having missed the opener.

“I do a lot of cardio so I’m always going to be in shape,” he said. “And I know the playbook, so it’s just a matter of getting healthy.”