The Tennessee Titans had one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL last season. The defense, however, left much to be desired.
So, when General Manager Jon Robinson began free agency looking to add more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, it was the team’s offense that surprisingly caught the eye of one of the top free agents on the market.
Outside linebacker Bud Dupree said in a recent interview on the Behind the Mask podcast with Takeo Spikes and Tutan Reyes that playing opposite of Titans running back Derrick Henry was one of Tennessee’s biggest selling points.
“If they keep that ground-and-pound mentality on the offensive side of the ball, when Derrick Henry takes the field and everyone is in the box and they throw the play-action pass and spread people out … they throw the out-routes and A.J. Brown taking it 60 yards to the crib off a slant, it’s a lovely situation,” Dupree said. “I’m just excited they took a chance on me and I’m ready to be a part of that.
“Every year, they’re knocking on the door trying to make it to a championship. Every year for the last three or four years… They just need some small pieces, and I feel like I can be one of those pieces that comes in and helps them out tremendously right away.”
Before suffering a season-ending ACL injury in Week 11 last season, Dupree was one of the league’s premier pass rushers opposite T.J. Watt with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In those 11 games, he had eight sacks, eight tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles 28 QB pressures and 12 QB hurries.
Despite missing the final five games of the year, Dupree still finished tied for the 12th-most sacks in the NFL.
Dupree is Robinson’s third big-money attempt at upgrading Tennessee’s pass rush in the last two years. Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley blew up in his face.
And while Dupree is another high-risk signing after coming off an ACL injury, the 28-year-old linebacker is spending his summer in Arizona at a rehab facility, minimizing distractions and sharpening his attitude and his body in preparation to be better than he was pre-injury.
“I’m going to be back better,” Dupree said. “I’m fine-tuning details, I’m working on small muscles now on my body — my body is already looking better than it was before I got my injury … I’m feeling top-flight.
“As soon as I’m cleared to run, I’ll be full speed on the field and ready to go taking my training to a whole (new) level. Right now, my main concern is I don’t like for people to outwork me […] I’m trying to rehab super hard, doing as much as I can to compensate for those other guys on the field doing pass rush moves already, already running sprints and trying to get ready for summer camp… As soon as I’m back, we’re going to take it to warp speed, work hard and smart, and get back to better (than how I was).”
Should Dupree get back to his pre-ACL tear form, his pass-rush prowess will be a welcomed addition to the Titans defense. Over the last two seasons, Dupree averaged 9.75 sacks with 32 QB hits, six forced fumbles, 56 QB pressures and 23 QB hurries.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_