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'I'm as confident as ever, man': Why Bud Dupree believes he's ready to help Falcons pass rush get revved up

Veteran edge rusher believes new-look defensive line could be a force

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Bud Dupree has been in a great mood since joining the Falcons. The veteran edge rusher is playing close to his hometown of Macon, Ga. He's as healthy as he has been in a long, long time, supremely confident that he can find great form and elevate a pass rush that has fallen on hard times.

Dupree was part of a talent infusion up front joining David Onyemata and Calais Campbell as free-agent signings designed to remake the line around Grady Jarrett, consistently stop the run and get after the freaking quarterback.


All that positivity, plus playing with such talent along an improved line, doesn't have Dupree doing double-digit sack dances in his head.

He's not setting statistical bars these days. Don't take that to suggest he personally isn't aiming high. He's just not focused on individual accomplishments.

"I'm confident as ever, man, and I'm just trying to ball," Dupree said after Wednesday's OTA session. "I want to put forth the best version of my game, to have my best season this year. But I'm not doing that for me personally. My individual goals, I've put them all behind me. Now I'm just here for the team, to put my best foot forward and help this team win."

Dupree putting his best foot forward will definitely help this Falcons team win. He was nothing short of awesome during the 2019 season and most of 2020, totaling 19.5 sacks (24 total tackles for loss) and six forced fumbles in 27 games. He tore an ACL in the last contest in that incredible run, which started a long run of rehab and injury troubles that impacted his next two seasons in Tennessee.

Dupree is looking forward to this new opportunity to work here in Atlanta, with talent across the line and a defensive coordinator in Ryan Nielsen who is a noted talent developer up front.

"Ryan is intense; he's a great guy, though, very learned," Dupree said. "He knows a ton about football, which is something I found out despite the short amount of time I've been with him. He's always trying to squeeze something out of the game for you so you can have a greater effect on the game. I like him as a coach, one of the better coaches in this league. Being here with him, I have so much respect for him."

Dupree has great admiration for those he'll work with across the line. Comparisons are always tough, but Dupree agrees that the Falcons have potential to be a high-level pass rush.

That's why he's so focused on the little things right now. He wants to make sure he gets the scheme down cold, that he gets used to those he's playing with and communicating with them well.

"That part of it is building every day," Dupree said. "The more I'm out here, the better I become and the more I can communicate well with Grady and David, A.J. and all those guys. Being able to turn around and know where guys are at is a big thing that you want to have locked down before you get to camp."

That's when the pads will go on and we'll get a better idea of how all these new players will work together. Track records suggest they'll meld well. So has Dupree's offseason program experience. Seeing some of the top talent up close has enhanced Dupree's opinion of his new co-workers.

"Seeing the guys from afar, you knew that they could play," he said. "But getting to work alongside them, has been great. David is so good. Grady's a [second-team All-Pro]. Calais is an All-Pro. Lorenzo [Carter] is really good. Getting to work directly with these guys gives you that much more respect for them. These guys are good."

Take a look at the 2023 Atlanta Falcons in action during offseason practice, presented by MegaFit Meals.

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