The Pittsburgh Steelers uncharacteristically were willing to give up a second-round pick and a third-rounder next year in order to move up 10 spots in the first round back in April. They did this because they knew that is what it would cost to get the player they wanted, Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush.
Considering the hype and the cost of the move, it’s understandable that the rookie is a frequent subject of conversation. But he is also making himself the subject of conversation with his play, coming off his first AFC Defensive Player of the Week nod after recording seven tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the Steelers’ victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
None of that was new for Bush, though. In fact, he leads all rookies and is in the top five in the league with 52 tackles on the season. He also has two interceptions, and while he has yet to produce a fumble himself, he has recovered four of them, which is a pretty key ingredient in turning a loose ball into a takeaway.
The last time a rookie inside linebacker played as much and really made an impact was back in 2001, when Bill Cowher was the Steelers head coach, and Kendrell Bell ended up winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He was asked about Bush during an appearance yesterday on The Fan, and if he was surprised by his early success.
“I’m not surprised by it. I thought he was a very dynamic player in college. I think what you’ve seen right here from Week One to where he is right now, just how much more comfortable he is”, Cowher told his hosts.
“You saw Week One he’s jumping up to the line and sitting on a crossing route because he’s got so many people in his ear telling him this, telling him that. I think as he settles into this position, he’s going to be a special player for a long time. So that’s not surprising, and I think he’ll continue to get better”.
He was asked if Bush would have started on one of his defenses as a rookie, as they had a history back then of not playing rookies, Bell being an obvious exception. He never answered that question, but he did explain what he looks for in a rookie before trusting him on the field.
“That he understood his responsibilities, number one. And then at that point, you try to be careful with how much you give him”, he said. “The one thing you don’t want him out there doing is thinking too much. You just want him out there playing. Just play, be instinctive, because that’s why you are who you are”.
“So that being said”, he concluded, “you want to make sure that they’re comfortable, you don’t want to ask them to do too much. But you just want them to be on the field because they have a way of making plays”.