The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their second preseason game of 2019 Saturday night against the Kansas City Chiefs and we expect rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush to play in that contest despite him missing some practice time this past week with an undisclosed injury. We also expect Bush, the team’s first-round draft pick this year out of Michigan, to play just as well Saturday night as he did in the team’s preseason game opener last Friday night. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is likely expecting that as well.
With the Steelers 2019 training camp coming to an end this week, Roethlisberger met the media one last time on Thursday and during his session he was asked about Bush and if the rookie inside linebacker got his attention any so far this summer.
“Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s kind of one of those things that in practice it wasn’t anything special, but he wasn’t making mistakes,” Roethlisberger said of Bush. “And then you just watch the game and, you know, you see the box score at the end of the day. I know he had a bunch of tackles and made some plays and it’s just kind of, he’s just there. He’s just doing things and he’s doing the right thing and you don’t hear him getting hollered at because he’s doing wrong. And to me that’s important for a guy at that position; is that it may not be all of the special wow plays you make, but when you’re not screwing up, that’s just important.”
In the Steelers preseason opener last Friday night, Bush put on a first half show as he recorded 10 total tackles. He played a total of 40 defensive snaps in his preseason debut and head coach Mike Tomlin compared his performance in that game to that of Ryan Shazier’s 2014 rookie year preseason debut. During an interview a few days ago with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler was asked to comment on Tomlin comparing Bush’s first preseason game to Shazier’s and if that’s not a bad initial place for the Michigan product to start his NFL career.
“Yeah, it’s not for you to compare somebody to,” Butler said. “I mean, I think they’re different guys in terms of how they play the game and stuff like that, but I still think he can be a very effective player for us this year. He’s still got a lot of learn though. I mean he does a lot of good things; he’s got a lot of natural talent and we look forward to him helping us this year.”
Butler was then asked during his interview if the Steelers coaching staff is still going through a process of figuring out the best way of integrating Bush and fellow inside linebackers Vince Williams and Mark Barron into the team’s defense this season.
“Well, we gotta see,” Butler said. “We know Vince, we don’t know the other two. Mark, we’ve seen him on film for eight years and stuff like that, but we haven’t seen him in this system. And so, we got a chance to see him the other night in this system and what he does and how he does it and all that stuff. And the same thing with Devin. We got to get a feel of what they do best and what they don’t do so well and try to augment the things they do good and try to curtail some of the things that maybe they don’t do so good.”
Butler was later asked if the long-term hope is for Bush to play more out in open space moving forward with Barron playing predominately closer to the line of scrimmage.
“Well, I mean, his [Bush’s] dad was a safety in the NFL and I don’t know what he played in high school or anything like that, he probably was a utility man wherever he was, but I think the position is easy for him in terms of coverage and stuff like that,” Butler said of Bush. “He’s still got to learn some things in terms of how we blitz and who we’re picking up and stuff like that. It’s just some things there that he needs to keep working at and he needs to be on the field to do it.”
Bush hopefully will be on the field working at getting better quite a bit Saturday night against the Chiefs. Will he play the entire first half again like he did last Friday night? we’ll have to wait and see but regardless of the total amount of snaps that Bush does wind up playing Saturday night, you can bet will recap most of them in a few postgame posts.