NASHVILLE – New Titans linebacker Bud Dupree hasn't taken the field in his new helmet just yet.
But Dupree, signed this offseason after playing previously with the Steelers, is edging closer.
And getting more anxious.
"I am recovering well, and I am on schedule," said Dupree, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 12 of the 2020 season. "As far as when they'll let me practice and stuff, it is really up to (trainers and doctors) to decide how they want to go forward with it. But on my end, I am doing pretty good and just taking it day by day.
"I am excited for the season ahead. … I am just excited to get on the field to show (my teammates) I work hard. They see me going hard in the training room, and they see me going hard in the offseason program I am in right now, getting better and trying to get back out there with those guys so I can make an impact right away. They respect it, and everybody is excited for me to be here. And I am more excited the are accepting me being here on the team."
Dupree is in Nashville for the team's minicamp. He's going through meetings, and getting to know his new teammates even better.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he's been pleased by Dupree's approach since he signed with the team in March.
"He's a professional," Vrabel said. "Bud is a professional. He communicates well. He communicates with (trainer) Todd (Toriscelli) about where he's at with his rehab and his therapist, and then when he's here he communicates with me. That's been the biggest thing that we've asked these guys to do, is to communicate. Then now working here with the group he's been engaged in meetings, he's working hard and doing everything we've asked him to do."
Dupree, formerly with the Steelers, was regarded as one of the top pass rushers in free agency when he signed with the Titans.
Dupree, 28, recorded eight sacks in 11 games in 2020 before suffering the 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.
In recent months, he's rehabbed in both Arizona and Atlanta, where's he's also done a lot of training. He's been back and forth to Nashville, looking for a place to live. He's spent a lot of time on zoom meetings with coaches and teammates.
This fall, he wants to make an immediate impact for the Titans.
"It's a team effort, but I am a big part of that," he said. "It is no secret they got me here for that, to help out with the pass rush, and I put it on my shoulders and I wear that hat while I am working out in the offseason, and while I am rehabbing right now to get my knee right. We all know what it is, and that is just part of the business of this game called football.
"I take it upon myself to make sure that I make an impact, as well as bringing guys up with me."
A first-round pick of the Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft, Dupree should bolster the pass rush in Tennessee while playing alongside fellow edge rushers Harold Landry, Derick Roberson, Rashad Weaver and others on a defense that needs a jumpstart in 2021. Dupree said he plans to help give instruction to some of the team's younger players, while also learning from them and other teammates 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.
The 22nd overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Dupree played in 47 games at Kentucky (2011-14), starting 38. He finished with 247 tackles, 38.0 TFLs, 23.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles and ranked second in Wildcat history at the time he left Kentucky with 23.5 career sacks. Dupree finished in the top-10 in the SEC in quarterback sacks three straight years (2012-14) with the Wildcats.
In time, he'll take the field as a Titan.
"I just have to go out there and continue to produce," Dupree said. "The bigger part of that is not just me producing but bringing somebody along to produce as well. And once you are doing that, it is all working.
"Those other guys are already on the field (this offseason), but I am still putting my hard hat on in the rehab room and in the training room to make sure once I get back on the field I am not falling behind. … We all want to be good players, and that is why we are in the NFL.
"I am excited to be here, and excited to be around the guys. It's a fun atmosphere."