A former first round pick back in 2015, Bud Dupree was a solid starter for the Steelers for his first four seasons, but had not become a true game-wrecker on defense. Well, he is having a career year in 2019 and has shown the ability to impact wins and losses on a consistent basis, as he did last week against the Bengals when his strip sack and fumble recovery sealed the win for Pittsburgh.
Dupree enters Week 13 with four sacks in his last five games and ranks either first or second on the Steelers in sacks (7.0, second), tackles for loss (10, T-first) and forced fumbles (3, second). His seven sacks are a career-high and, along with T.J. Watt (11.5 sacks), Dupree is part of one of the two NFL LB tandems with at least seven sacks in 2019. In fact, Dupree and Watt are the first Steelers tandem since James Harrison and Lamar Woodley back in 2008 with at least seven sacks apiece through the team's first 11 games.
Greg Robinson has been playing some of his best football of late. Since Week 4, Robinson has allowed only two sacks and just one quarterback hit. When he squared off with Dupree two weeks ago, Robinson allowed just one pressure all day and Dupree never got his hands on Baker Mayfield. Unfortunately, Big Greg is currently in the concussion protocol and it is unclear if he will be available to play Sunday against the Steelers.
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Steelers Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
If Robinson is out, Justin McCray, who started at LT for the Browns in New England, is expected to get the call and face the tough matchup with Dupree. McCray has been an excellent run blocker but has had his struggles in pass protection. In his one start at LT, McCray allowed five total pressures, including one sack.
Dupree not only has the seven sacks this year, but also has 10 QB hits, which is second on the Steelers behind only Watt. The only thing that could slow down a Browns offense that is hitting its stride would be too much pressure off the edge. You know Watt is going to do his part (he is third in sacks in the NFL with 11.5 and leads the league with 25 QB hits and five forced fumbles), and if Dupree can collapse the pocket from his side, it could make things very difficult on Mayfield and the Browns offense.