Training camp is finally here, even genuine practices. This is the first time all year that we, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, have had the opportunity to take the field in any capacity, which is an all-important step in the process of evaluating your offseason decisions and beginning to put the puzzle together that will shape the upcoming season.
The Steelers are coming off of an 8-8 season, but while they will default to clichés about how you are what your record says you are, they know they have the potential to be much better. Still, they enter training camp with some questions to answer.
They are no different than any team in the NFL in that regard, in any year. Nobody comes to practice as a finished product. So during this series, we are going to highlight some of the most significant storylines that figure to play out over the course of training camp.
Headline: Devin Bush taking the next step and leading the defense
There’s no question about why the Steelers traded up to draft Devin Bush. They knew that he was going to be their leader for the future. That might not come immediately, and it didn’t during his rookie season, but he was a frequent, active, and positive contributor, logging about 900 snaps and posting 109 tackles while adding six takeaways.
For as promising as his rookie year may have been, of course, now is the time for him to take the next step, or perhaps the next couple of steps, as he not only cleans up some areas of his game and learns to play at a quicker pace, but also ascends into a leadership role, both on and off the field, including wearing the green dot.
At least that’s the ultimate goal. How much of that will actually develop this season remains to be seen, but we shouldn’t dismiss it. Bush himself has told reporters earlier in training camp that he feels much more comfortable both in the defensive scheme and in the playbook.
It’s just a matter of getting those physical reps in, allowing his eyes to match his mind, allowing him to play at the pace necessary to be able to wield the dual role of setting the defense as well. They have been feeding him these duties in practice settings going back literally to the rookie minicamp of the 2019 season. They talked about it right after they drafted him. They wanted him to do it last year.
The fact that they had an abbreviated offseason didn’t help, but he should still be able to pick up the defense and get making the calls under his belt successfully. But of course his own level of play is more important than his ability to call the defense, which if necessary is a duty that somebody on the field, or multiple somebodys, could handle in his place.