NASHVILLE – Titans edge rusher Bud Dupree plans to lead, and learn.
The prized free agent signing hopes to also set a tone in Tennessee, where he was hired to make a difference on defense.
His mindset: Play like your hair is on fire.
"Just chasing the ball, running to the ball, no matter what it is," Dupree said. "If it's a pile, get in the pile, get dirty. If a guy is running the ball, chase the ball, get down the line of scrimmage and make sure you're tackling him at the line of scrimmage. Never turn down contact. Just trying to make as many plays as you can, not looking around for someone else to make plays, put it upon yourself to make the play each and every time.
"You always have to have that mindset in the back of your head: 'If it is a big play, I need to be the one to make the play.' That is just a mindset that I have, and I feel like everyone on the field should feel the same way.' Every player should be like, 'It is crunch time, and I'm about to make the play'. That's just a mindset that every guy should have on the field at the same time to make the unit great."
Earlier this month, the Titans landed one of the top pass rushers in free agency in Dupree, a former Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher who should make a big difference on a defense that managed just 19 sacks in 16 games last season.
Dupree, 28, recorded eight sacks in 11 games in 2020 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Dupree posted a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2019 with 17 quarterback hits and 16 tackles for loss.
Dupree's 19.5 sacks over the past two seasons rank eighth and his six strip sacks rank fourth in the NFL since 2019.
Dupree is familiar with many of the Titans. He's trained with defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons in the past, and he's a big fan of Kevin Byard and Jayon Brown, among others. Earlier this month, the Titans also added former Colts defensive lineman Denico Autry, who has shown a knack for getting to the quarterback during his NFL career.
Edge rushers Harold Landry and Derick Roberson are among the returning edge rushers for the Titans.
"Those guys are already working together as a group, so I am going to come in and try and bring us a little bit closer, making sure guys are learning from each other," Dupree said. "That's the biggest part when you are part of a team, you want to make sure you feed off of each other, feed off the energy from the other guys, you are taking advice from the other guys on the team, just making that statement that way.
"I am excited to be a part of this team, with these guys. Coming in, I am just trying to be the best I can be myself, not only for me but for them. They deserve it, and I feel like the team deserves it as well."
In addition to his eight sacks last season, Dupree also posted 31 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 15 quarterback hits for the Steelers.
In six seasons with the Steelers, Dupree started 66 games and he posted 39.5 sacks, 231 tackles, 54 tackles for loss, an interception return for a touchdown and 65 quarterback hits.
Dupree wants the Titans to play defense like a pack of dogs.
"On this team, we are going to make 11 lead dogs on the defense," Dupree said. "So if we instill that into everybody and make sure everyone is on the same page, it'll be 11 guys on the field and 11 guys that want to make sure we take their face off. I already see those guys moving that way. I'll come in and bring a couple of things from my game and they can show me the ropes and we can collectively make something special."