Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Bud Dupree had a disappointing first season with the team as he attempted to return from a torn ACL suffered during the 2020 campaign.
Dupree, who tallied just three sacks in 11 games in 2021, was able to make it back in time for the start of the season but was in and out of the lineup as he dealt with setbacks, something he admitted to.
On Tuesday, the veteran revealed he only “started feeling a little better” in January going into the playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I’d say it was in the playoff game [against the Bengals], that’s when things started to really unfold, started feeling a little better,” Dupree admitted, per John Glennon of Sports Illustrated. “Then going into this offseason, [I’ve] had a lot of opportunities to go and keep rehabbing and continue on that [road to recovery].”
Dupree’s progress later in the season showed in his performance, as the former Pittsburgh Steeler notched a pair of sacks in two of the last four regular season games, and then followed that up with a sack in the aforementioned playoff loss to Cincinnati.
Ahead of 2022, Dupree continues to work on getting back to where he was prior to the injury. He also noted how his confidence is much higher than it was last year.
“I’ve been focused this offseason,” Dupree said. “Just getting the mobility back in my knee, getting my bend back on my stance, [being] powerful off the ball as well as turning the corner better, again [getting] low at the top of the rush. That’s things that were fundamental prior to the injury. But you got to make sure you continue to do those things, coming back to re-train the brain.”
“It’s way different, man, way different,” Dupree added. “Feels way better. Confidence is a different level. That’s all it takes to play this game. Your confidence is high, you’re going to play at a different level.”
Another thing that will no doubt help the 29-year-old is the fact that he’s in his second season in defensive coordinator Shane Bowen’s system.
“I don’t got to get used to things anymore,” Dupree said. “I already know the routine, know the vibe. You feel more comfortable, you play more comfortable.”
Dupree, who signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Titans in free agency in 2021, could be facing a make-or-break year in Nashville.
The Titans could cut the Kentucky product in 2023, which would clear $9.35 million in cap space but incur a dead-cap charge of $10.85 million. Such a move can’t be ruled out if Dupree doesn’t answer the bell in 2022.