Throughout the season follow each game I will be taking a look at the rookies and how they fared each week. This will consist of thoughts such as the positive and negatives from that game, areas to watch or work on and clips to support what I’m sharing. Hopefully, this will shed some insight on some things you may or may not have seen.
Regular Season Week 2
Devin Bush/ILB – In Week 2, it was generally more of the same of what we saw in week 1. He finished the game with 7 tackles and a fumble recovery but continued to have issues in the run game and in pass coverage.
Versus the run, he continues to struggle to get off blocks. Whether it is against an offensive lineman or tight ends neither has had a problem with handling him one on one. On the first play after Vince Williams had to come out of the game with a hamstring issue, on a run designed to go middle that bounced out to the right, the center came out to the second level to block Bush and 8 yards down field was still blocking him. He had 1 or 2 tackles at the LOS and was in position for another on a Mike Hilton tackle in the backfield but those were when unblocked. He showed good athleticism and flashed his speed on the fumble recovery and return but for a second while running 10 yards in the wrong direction I was worried about a Jim Marshall incident happening. If you don’t know what that is you can see it here.
In coverage, he was solid at times but looked confused in others. Opposing teams are going to continue to attack him until he begins to start making plays. They did use him often to blitz and the for the most part his timing was off giving the blockers ample opportunity to pick him up.
Here is the second touchdown to Will Dissly (88). Bush (55) looked a little confused just drifting to his right a bit and it looks like his eyes are on the RB who was covered by Mark Barron (26) before his focus goes to the tight end much too late.
Here was a blitz in which he showed good timing. He times the snap well and the guard is peaking inside a bit. The guard is forced to almost clothesline Bush on the quick pass to the outside. There is potential here once he gets the timing down like Hilton does.
He’ll continue to improve and the defense will need to look at making adjustments but the growing pains will continue in the weeks to come.
Diontae Johnson/WR – An opportunity to move up the wide receiver depth chart is in front of Johnson and I fully expect him to take advantage. He had 1 reception for 17 yards and also had one drop. The drop came on a shallow cross where he did a nice job to avoid the linebacker trying to wall him off but couldn’t handle the throw.
Here was his lone catch. He slips on his break back to the QB. The turf was in pretty poor condition. He makes a nice adjustment and shows good concentration on a pass that was too far inside. Efforts like this will not go unnoticed.
In a bit of a surprise he got a chance to be the punt returner as well. He only got one returnable punt and didn’t get cute. Caught it and got up field and to the sideline for an 11 yard gain. Competition is always good. It doesn’t let anybody get comfortable in their position so Ryan Switzer should be on notice.
The Steelers receivers have had trouble separating in the first two games and that is where Johnson excels. His play counts will continue to rise as he gets more comfortable in the offense.
Benny Snell Jr./RB – Speaking of offense, Snell got his first taste getting his first, and only, carry so far in this early season. He made the most off it. Taking the handoff he showed patience to wait for the gap to open, displayed solid acceleration through the hole and set up the safety to force a missed tackle by pressing outside before cutting back in leading to a 23 yard gain.
On special teams, I was hoping to see him get a chance to block on kick returns but they were all touchbacks. On kick coverage he made a good play on a kick Chris Boswell pinned in the right corner just outside the end zone. He showed good hustle being the first man down field and made a diving attempt, maybe a little too soon, forcing the returner inside. He was a little slow to get up but hustled back inside to make the tackle.
Ulysses Gilbert III/ILB – After last week I was looking for an improvement from Gilbert while blocking on punts. He got driven back a bit in week one but performed much better this week. On top of that he was consistently the first man downfield (other than the gunners). He contributed getting in on a tackle on punt coverage and also was in on a tackle on kick return on another good kick off by Boswell to the left corner just outside the end zone. Good to see the young guys making contributions early in the season.
Inactive for Week 1 – Justin Layne/CB, Zach Gentry/TE, Isaiah Buggs/DL, Fred Johnson/OG
Practice Squad – Derwin Gray/OG, Trevon Mathis/CB, Devlin Hodges/QB