The first half of the Kansas City game compelled head coach Mike Tomlin to contemplate the possibilities as they related to T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.
The two together have “the makings of an awesome tandem,” Tomlin offered during a televised interview at halftime.
But Dupree maintains the Steelers’ outside linebacking pair should already be recognized as such, and would have been by now had he better held up his end.
“Mainly on me,” Durpee said after practice today. “T.J. had 13 (sacks) last year. On film I had double-digit (sacks), I just didn’t close in on all my sacks.
“If I would have made all my sacks last year, people would have been talking about us being an awesome tandem this year.”
Dupree settled for five-and-a-half sacks in 16 games last season.
He registered two in two quarters against the Chiefs.
The key to getting such production more consistently might be what was working against Kansas City.
“Bud wasn’t just running up the field,” Heyward observed in the immediate aftermath of the Steelers’ 17-7 victory on Saturday night at Heinz Field. “Our stunt games were on point.”
The Steelers maintain there are more sacks where those came from for Dupree.
Getting him to rely on more than just trying to run up the field and around offensive tackles has been an emphasis in recent seasons.
“Yeah, definitely,” Dupree confirmed.
The Kansas City game, Dupree’s debut this preseason, reinforced the notion that there are ways to get to a quarterback beyond a speed rush.
“I probably didn’t even do a speed rush the whole game,” Dupree insisted. “I was just working on other stuff, and each game we’ll work on different moves and different techniques.”
Dupree has played the stunt game previously, but not as effectively, Heyward maintained.
“Sometimes when Bud runs his inside games he gets his body turned,” Heyward observed. “It almost slants him down into the front.”
This time “he was able to use his body and get back vertical,” Heyward added.
Dupree finding new avenues to the passer may yet make he and Watt a much-talked-about combo, and a much more productive one for the Steelers.
Watt had seven sacks as a rookie and has 20 in two seasons.
Dupree has 20 from 2015 through last season.
“We definitely have a lot of stuff that we can do,” Dupree said. “It’s all abut executing. Once we execute, we make plays.”
The Steelers prepare for the preseason Week 3 matchup against the Tennessee Titans