All it took was a little prodding from Michael Irvin. Get Mike Tomlin talking with a former NFL player or coach and he sings like a canary. Initially, Tomlin offered a coy “He’s been alright,” when asked about Devin Bush’s role in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense this year. But when pressed, Tomlin offered a more salient point.
“We didn’t trade up in round one to take Devin for him to watch,” Tomlin said on NFL Network. “He’s working hard out here and he’s going to be a contributor as well.”
Bush has gotten near exclusive first team opportunity after rotating early in camp thanks to Vince Williams sitting out with a hamstring and Mark Barron shuffling on and off the practice field throughout the first ten days. His play has been ascending, though that’s partially thanks to him gaining comfort in practice and seeing the same guys every day. His next step will be carrying that over to preseason games, starting this Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tomlin went on to explain the importance of Bush learning the defense and the calls, critical factors in his development and being able to stay on the field.
“What we’re talking about is defense of quarterbacks as opposed to linebackers. These guys are the hub or hubs of communication for the defense. They get people lined up, they make adjustments, they make audibles at the line of scrimmage. That’s the job he’s auditioning for.”
The last time the Steelers traded up in the first round was 2006 to select Santonio Holmes. Pittsburgh immediately found ways to get him the football, even more than a decade ago when the team philosophy of playing rookies was much different than it is today. Holmes finished that year with four official starts, catching 49 passes for 824 yards and a pair of receiving touchdowns.
So with Bush, you can count on him seeing the field early and often. And I’ll bet a couple of bucks when the Steelers open the field for the first snap against New England, Devin Bush will be on the field. It’ll just be a question of who, or Barron, starts next to him.