I’ve been tough on Artie Burns and Bud Dupree in the past. I won’t go back on those criticisms, they were accurate. Artie Burns has looked awful since a promising rookie year. It’s not just like he’s taken a step back in coverage. Burns hardly seemed to be able to tackle someone last year. In the case of Dupree, the guy is just all over the place. How could someone with so much speed and talent not produce?
What’s worse with Dupree is his attitude. Getting into fights on twitter with reporters is something no player should do. Let alone someone who has been such a disappointment. Dupree has all the skills to be a Pro Bowl edge rusher. However, he has rarely shown that he can use those skills to produce on the field. Dupree is known for overpursuing into the pocket and missing tackles. On the rare occasion he takes an efficient route to the quarterback, he usually doesn’t bring him down.
Both Dupree and Burns have given Steelers fans migraines the past few years. However, both looked good Saturday in Pittsburgh’s 17-7 preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs. In a sloppy game plagued by rain, the defense was expected to dominate. With five turnovers and seven fumbles, it’s not surprising two defenders stood out. The pleasant surprise is that it was these defenders. Not much deviated from the narrative for Pittsburgh Saturday. The main difference was the elevated play from Burns and Dupree.
Artie Burns, Bud Dupree Makes Positive Impacts for Pittsburgh Steelers
Burns started early in showing some progression. Burns brought Tyreek Hill down in the open field. By himself. This alone was enough to catch my attention. This is the kind of tackling Pittsburgh needs. It wasn’t just any open field tackle either, it was on Tyreek Hill. Burns some good coverage and a batted pass to his night as well.
Dupree padded the stat sheet a bit more. He finished the night with three tackles and two sacks. Dupree also hit the quarterback three times and deflected a pass. His standout play came on a sack of Chad Henne. Dupree used pure speed to get into the backfield early and brought Henne down with ease. Dupree took the fastest route to the quarterback, showing just how fast he really is. Dupree’s mix of power and speed was enough to blow past the Chiefs line and into the backfield.
So what does this mean? While this is just one preseason game, the word from camp is that both players have improved. Both have chips on their shoulder having disappointed more often than not. The difference between the real deal and fluke can get blurred, especially looking at stats. But both Burns and Dupree looked good when playing. I’m not saying that both are going to have All-Pro seasons. But if both Dupree and Burns can make strides toward improvement this year, Pittsburgh’s defense could be one of the most feared in the league.
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