Among other things, tonight’s game against the New England Patriots will mark for the Pittsburgh Steelers the debut of the highest player they have drafted since 2000, the 10th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, inside linebacker Devin Bush. Beyond that, not a whole lot is known. Will he start? Will he be one of the two primary linebackers? That remains to be seen and could depend upon the flow of the game.
No matter what happens, however, he insists that he’s ready for it.
“I feel like I’m up to speed,”, he told reporters in the locker room earlier this week, via The Fan. “This week is big for me, getting out there and practicing the game plan, getting comfortable with the game plan”.
It’s the first time during his professional career, of course, during which he has had a complete weekly schedule in preparation for one specific opponent. Installing the gameplan is as integral a part of the process as any. But he’s still not sure himself how much of that plan he’ll be executing.
“Whatever Coach allows me to do, whether that’s coming in here and there” or playing a more significant amount, “it doesn’t matter”, he said. He added it will be fun. “It’ll definitely be an experience. I can’t wait to go out there and play against the Patriots. I’m excited”.
Bush will be the fourth defensive rookie in a row to start a season opener, joining Sean Davis in 2016, T.J. Watt in 2017, and Terrell Edmunds in 2018, assuming that he is there on the field for the first snap over either Mark Barron or Vince Williams. But whether he does or not, he still figures to be in line for a significant role.
The second-generation NFL player almost seems to feel as though he’s been here before. He saw his father, a first-round safety and Super Bowl champion bearing the same name, succeed at this level, and he played through one of the most pro collegiate programs—with his father on the coaching staff.
“I don’t really get nervous”, Bush claimed. “I’m not trying to be all cocky or anything. I’ve got a lot of confidence. It’s going to be cool to be there and see” the Patriots’ Super Bowl trophies”, he added, noting that he wants one of his own. “So that’ll be a huge motivation”.
The Steelers have six of them on their own as well, but they’re collecting dust in the display case at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex by now. The Patriots have three fresh ones from the past five years, including the most recent. This is the team who has been where Pittsburgh wants to be, where Bush wants to be. They will be raising their championship banner tonight. That should be all the motivation one needs.