News & Analysis

T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree will start at OLB for Steelers

By Michael Manning
Aug 14, 2017
Pittsburgh Steelers T.J. Watt James Harrison Bud Dupree

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 11: Quarterback Josh Johnson #8 of the New York Giants is sacked by T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter of an NFL preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 11, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
  • As reported by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers plan to use 2015 first-round pick Bud Dupree and rookie T.J. Watt as the team’s starters at outside linebacker instead of the rotational system used last season, relegating veteran James Harrison to a “relief pitcher” role when Watt and Dupree tire.
  • The Steelers were the only team that ran a 3-4 defense last season to have five outside linebackers play 300 or more snaps last season. Harrison led the group with 586 snaps played in 2016 but after Dupree returned from injury in Week 11, he led the team from then on with 318 snaps.
  • Watt’s snap count last season while at the University of Wisconsin was 661, sixth on the Badgers defense and 36th in the nation among outside linebackers. This was a huge jump from his 2015 season in which he played only 174 snaps.
  • Harrison, the oldest defensive player in the NFL, had the seventh highest pass rush productivity in the NFL among 3-4 outside linebackers on way to an 86.7 overall grade. Watt owned the fifth highest pass rush productivity by a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NCAA.

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