Pittsburgh Steelers rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush will make his NFL regular season debut Sunday night in the team’s 2019 opener against the New England Patriots and the only thing that remains to be seen at this point in regard to the Michigan product is the amount of playing he ultimately gets.
During his Thursday media session, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler was asked to reveal how much he expects Bush to play Sunday night against the Patriots and he didn’t take the media bait.
“We will see,” Butler said, according to the team’s official transcript of the session that was provided. “Obviously, I’m not going to tell you. We will see what happens Sunday night. We are going to try to do the best we can to beat those guys. They have a great quarterback and it is going to be tough.”
It will indeed be tough to beat Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium Sunday night in the opener and might also be tough for Bush to cut his teeth calling the team’s defense in such a hostile environment. Butler was asked if he believes a rookie can go into Foxborough on opening night and successfully call the Steelers defense in his first official NFL game.
“We will see,” Butler said. “We will see what happens. We have plans for what we are trying to get done. Obviously, I am not going to give them right here, but I think our guys are excited about playing Sunday night and playing the world champions. It is exciting for all of us.”
Butler was immediately asked if he thinks Bush can call the defense Sunday night if called upon to do so.
“I think he can,” Butler said. “I think he will be all right. He is still a rookie, he respects the game and as long as he respects the game then he’s going to do all right, and I think he will.”
Bush obviously looked great in the three preseason games that he played in and it’s clear that the team’s first-round draft pick has made a quick a necessary transition to the NFL game since being drafted tenth overall in late April. On Wednesday, Butler was asked if he was satisfied with the amount progress Bush made throughout the team’s OTA and training camp practices.
“I was happy with a lot of them,” Butler said. “Mark Barron has done a good job for us. I think our defense as a whole is kind of learning to play with each other and I think you have to do that every year with the defense that you have. They are getting used to each other and learning to count on each other to be where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there.”
Mark Barron, a veteran who was signed during the early stages of free agency and roughly a month and a half before Bush was drafted, is also expected to see a lot of playing time Sunday night against the Patriots. The team’s other primary inside linebacker, Vince Williams, should also see some playing time as part of the Steelers base defense. Will we see Williams and Bush on the field at the same time Sunday night? Probably not, as only one defensive player can wear the communication helmet with the green dot on it.
Sure, Williams will almost certainly have a backup helmet without the communication device in it, but odds are good barring injuries that Bush will be on the field with Barron whenever two inside linebackers are needed for the team’s sub packages. That would leave Williams to more than likely only see playing time with Barron in some base defense groupings.
Regardless of how the Steelers choose to employ their inside linebackers Sunday night, one would think that Bush will play a minimum of half of the defensive snaps played in the game. A solid showing by Bush Sunday night against the Patriots would certainly be a shot in the arm for the Steelers defense and serve as an initial conformation that the organization made the right decision to trade up to get him.