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Steelers OLB Bud Dupree getting first-team reps, wants to go against best

PITTSBURGH -- First-round pick Bud Dupree said he’s happy he is getting some first-team reps because he likes "going up against the best."

The Pittsburgh Steelers have veterans James Harrison and Arthur Moats along with third-year pro Jarvis Jones at outside linebacker, but Dupree confirmed they are working him in with first- and second-team reps.

The Steelers appear to be grooming Dupree as an eventual starter.

"Everything is starting to click," Dupree said. "(My goal is) to show them I know the plays and show them they can trust me."

The Steelers selected Dupree No. 22 overall in this year’s draft. Dupree ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash, which is big time for a 6-foot-4, 269-pounder. He also has a 42-inch vertical.

Dupree’s college stats aren’t gaudy -- he finished with 7.5 sacks for Kentucky in 2014 -- but Dupree has context for that. He dropped into coverage more than he rushed the passer at Kentucky, he said. That experience is helping him adapt to the Steelers' system that emphasizes both.

Dupree said he’s learned the playbook and is adjusting to the speed of the NFL game, which takes time. Veterans are helping him.

"I feel I had a good turnaround on the (playbook)," Dupree said. "I’ve always picked up on things fast."

One player that won’t relinquish his job without a battle is Harrison, who, at 37, says he’s capable of playing more than 25 snaps a game from now until he’s 50.

But Harrison might have a situational role if the Steelers feel they need a return on investment from first-round picks Dupree and Jones, who has three sacks in two years after battling a serious wrist injury last season.

"No one wants to sit and be a backup player," Harrison said. "If that’s your mentality, you’re not in the right sport ... You have roles that you play. If that’s your role, you do it the best you can."