After the Pittsburgh Steelers escaped Heinz Field with a 19-14 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday, concern immediately turned to the status of Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who suffered an apparent knee injury with five-and-a-half minutes to go in the fourth quarter. It’s never a good sign when a player slaps the ground multiple times immediately after incurring an injury, which is exactly how Dupree reacted when he fell to the turf while rushing Ravens third-string QB Trace McSorley.
Initial Diagnosis: Bud Dupree Has Suffered a Torn ACL
According to Mike Garafolo and Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network, initial tests indicate that Dupree has suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the remainder of the season.
Jeremy Fowler, senior NFL reporter for ESPN, adds that “the team is hoping for the best but not much optimism as it sits.”
If the diagnosis is confirmed, Dupree would be the third Steelers player who has torn an ACL this year. Starting right tackle Zach Banner suffered the same injury in the season opener versus the New York Giants and inside linebacker Devin Bush went down in Week 6 during a 38-7 win over the Cleveland Browns.
It’s tough news for the team—and for Dupree personally—as he is playing on the non-exclusive franchise tag this season and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in early 2021.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, Dupree had already contributed 26 tackles (18 solo) in 2020, along with eight sacks, 15 quarterback hits, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two passes defensed. Against the Ravens, Dupree added five tackles and two tackles for loss.
Next Man Up: Rookie Alex Highsmith
With the injury to Dupree, rookie outside linebacker Alex Highsmith figures to be thrust into a starting role. Highsmith is the team’s third-round pick out of Charlotte. He has played in approximately 20 percent of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps this year, as well as 71 percent of its special teams snaps. Coming into Wednesday’s contest he had 18 tackles (14 solo), with one sack, one interception, three tackles for loss, one quarterback hit and one pass defensed. He went on to add one assisted tackle versus the Ravens.
But behind Highsmith (and fellow OLB T.J. Watt) the Steelers now have precious little depth. Ola Adeniyi is Watt’s backup and Jayrone Elliott could now see snaps at right outside linebacker in relief of Highsmith.
Steelers Players React to the News of Dupree’s Injury
As one might expect, many of Dupree’s teammates sent messages of support following the game, including wide receiver Diontae Johnson, cornerback Mike Hilton and running back Benny Snell Jr.
A message also went out from Ben Roethlisberger’s official Twitter account:
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said the Steelers locker room was “very quiet” after the game because of Dupree’s injury.
Steelers Poised to Tie NFL Sack Record
On a more positive note, by virtue of getting three sacks against the Ravens (2 by T.J. Watt), the Steelers have recorded at least one sack in 68 consecutive games.
The team can tie the NFL record of 69 straight games (set by the 1999-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers) next Monday at home versus Washington.
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