Bud Dupree is still rehabbing the ACL injury he suffered in December when he was still a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But even though Dupree can't do much for the Titans in mini-camp this week other that work to get back as soon as possible, Tennessee's big free agent acquisition is eager to prove he is worth the Titans' investment and welcomes the pressure that comes along with the five-year, $82.5 million deal he signed to leave Pittsburgh.
“It's a team effort, but I'm a big part of that. Pressure creates a battle,” Dupree said of helping improve the Titans' anemic pass rush from 2020 that produced just 19 sacks. “You've got to take it from that standpoint. It's no secret that they got me here for that, to help out with the pass rush. I put that on my shoulders and I wear that hat, while I'm working out in the off-season, while I'm rehabbing my knee. We all know what it is. That's just part of this game called football. I take it upon myself to make an impact as well as bringing guys with me, guys who are going to be here all the time and teaching those guys stuff that I've learned, as well as learning stuff from those guys that I may not know.”
As for the money part of the equation, Dupree said a big payday won't change the way he approaches his game.
“To me, you expect to get paid big your second contract. If you're working hard your first contract, you expect to get paid big in your second contract. That doesn't mean that you go out there and change who you are, because that's what got you paid. The bigger part of that is it's not me producing, but it's bringing someone else along to produce as well. Once you do that, it's all working,” he said.
Dupree's leadership is welcomed by the Titans defense. But Coach Mike Vrabel said it is important that Dupree get healthy enough to return and contribute first.
“I’m sure they have conversations. When Bud is out there his role will change, right now his role is to get as healthy as he possibly can. Be ready to go, continue to work hard. His role on the field right now hasn’t been defined,” Vrabel said.
As for when Dupree might be able to get back on the practice field – whether that is by training camp in July or when the regular season starts in September, Dupree wants to be ready.
I”'m recovering well. I'm on schedule. As far as when they'll let me practice, I really don't know. It's up to them to decide what they want to do and how they want to go forward with it. I'm just taking it day by day and I'm excited for the season ahead,” Dupree said.