Steelers Elevate, Downgrade Linemen; Titans Activate Bud Dupree

Bud Dupree

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images Bud Dupree of the Tennessee Titans makes a tackle against the Buffalo Bills on October 18, 2021.

On Saturday December 18 both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans made roster moves in anticipation of Sunday’s meeting between the two teams at Heinz Field.

For one, the Steelers elevated offensive lineman Rashaad Coward from the practice squad to the active/inactive roster, a move necessitated by injuries on the offensive line (and left guard in particular).

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Coward has been on and off the team in 2021, having originally inked a one-year contract in March, a low-level free agent acquisition that made headlines because an online gamer broke the news of the signing. Coward worked with Pittsburgh’s first-team offensive line throughout the offseason and into training camp. Nevertheless, he was part of the final round of roster cuts on August 31, 2021. He was added to the practice squad on September 1, only to get released again on October 9. Coward went on to spend a week with the Jacksonville Jaguars before getting re-signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad on November 23.

The 27-year-old has been in the league since 2017, when joined the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Old Dominion. Thus far he has played in 31 career games with 15 starts. That includes his lone appearance for the Steelers, which came on December 9, during which he played a total of five snaps against the Vikings.

Steelers Defensive Lineman Isaiah Buggs Downgraded

On Saturday the Steelers also indicated that interior defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs will not play on Sunday, joining rookie linebacker Buddy Johnson in being ruled out for the game against the Titans.

Two other players—cornerback Joe Haden (foot) and third-string tight end Kevin Rader (hip)—are listed as questionable on the team’s most recent injury/participation report.

On a positive note, Steelers outside linebackers T.J. Watt (groin) and Alex Highsmith (quadricep) are both expected to play against the Titans, as is inside linebacker Robert Spillane, who has been nursing a knee injury.

Ex-Steelers First-Rounder Bud Dupree Activated

Speaking of outside linebackers, the Steelers will be facing two of their own former edge rushers when the Titans come to town.

On Saturday the Titans activated Bud Dupree off injured reserve. Dupree—who was Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in 2015—suffered an abdominal injury on November 14 against the New Orleans Saints and has missed Tennessee’s last three games while on the Reserve/Injured list.

Dupree has played in only seven games (two starts) for the Titans since signing a five-year, $82.5 million contract with Tennessee in March 2021. During those contests he has recorded seven tackles, eight quarterback pressures and one sack, his production still compromised—apparently—by the torn ACL he suffered during a game against the Baltimore Ravens on December 1, 2020.

The Titans have received more production from the other former Steelers outside linebacker they added in free agency this spring, that being Ola Adeniyi, who has played in 12 games for the Titans and has been credited with 20 total tackles, eight quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks.

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