Bud Dupree willing to play like his 'hair is on fire' to help the Titans pass rush

Mike Organ
Nashville Tennessean
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Since the moment he realized he would join the Tennessee Titans, Bud Dupree has been in a rush to help the franchise's pass rush.

It began before Dupree, an edge rusher who spent the last six seasons at Pittsburgh, arrived in Tennessee by telling coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Shane Bowen over the phone how eager he was to get started.

"I've been communicating with them since I found out I was going to be a Titan," said Dupree, who agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract.

LB Bud Dupree, from Pittsburgh Steelers to Tennessee Titans (free agent)

"I'm excited, they're excited," he said. "I'm trying to come in and be ahead of the playbook. As soon as I get a chance to get the playbook I am going to get into it to make sure there is no step back. I'm trying to find out what they're looking for, trying to find out things that they think we need to get better on as a unit so that when I come I can already be a step ahead."

The Titans' pass rush needs immediate help. Tennessee had the third-fewest sacks (19) in the NFL last season. The defense as a whole ranked 28th (398.3 yards).

Dupree, 28, who had 19.5 sacks over the last two seasons combined, and former Colts defensive lineman Danico Autry, 30, who agreed to a three-year, $21.5 million contract, were brought in specifically to help fix the pass rush.

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Dupree's aggressive style is exactly what the Titans need.

"I am going to go out there and play with my hair on fire, and just try and get after the quarterback as much as I can,"  he said. "It's about chasing the ball, running to the ball no matter what it is. If it's a pile, get in the pile and get dirty. Never turn down contact. Just make as many plays as you can, not looking around waiting for somebody else to make plays."  

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt (91) and outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

One drawback is that Dupree tore his ACL at the end of the 2020 season.

"I'm coming back stronger than ever," he said. "I'll be ready for camp, full steam ahead. I'll be healthy way before camp. I'm excited about the progress that I've made so far."

As for Autry's style, he said he will remind Titans fans of second-year defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons. Autry and Simmons both played at Mississippi State.

"He's a real Bulldog," Autry said of Simmons. "He plays hardnosed and tough, similar to my game. I'm looking forward to (playing with Simmons). That's going to be big; just getting that chemistry, coming close to each other."

Autry, who began his career with the Raiders (2014-17), recorded 7.5 sacks last season, two years after recording a career-high nine in 2018.

"I've been able in my career to get off and get to the quarterback," Autry said. "I like to play mind games when I'm rushing the quarterback. With the offensive linemen I like to give them a juke or a fake or look inside and then go outside. Just playing chess with them." 

Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter. 

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