The Pittsburgh Steelers have several second-year players they’re hoping will make significant jumps in 2020 and leading the way on that list is inside linebacker Devin Bush and wide receiver Diontae Johnson. While both of those young players had very impressive 2019 rookie seasons, Tomlin said Saturday night during his first television show of 2020 that the expectations are that each will make significant jumps in their second seasons, which will get underway Monday night on the road against the New York Giants.
“You know, I believe it’s reasonable to expect those guys to go through the natural maturation process,” Tomlin said of Bush and Johnson. “And that process is really centered around the acknowledgement that that lap around the track provides certain knowledge for them where they’re no longer speculating. So, if you’re Diontae, if you’re Devin Bush, you know the battle that lies ahead in terms of the rigors of the week in and the week out so they’re better prepared to meet those battles. And it starts first and foremost there.”
Tomlin then went on to say that a second-year jump by both Bush and Johnson should be aided by the dedication the two had during the offseason when it came to having their respective bodies ready for the rigors of an NFL season.
“Both guys showed up in training camp in much better physical condition than they did a year ago,” Tomlin told host Bob Pompeani Saturday night. “And I think that that is a springboard for all the things that follow. They’re more available during the course of practice. They’re more available to take more reps and the availability regarding the reps produces an accelerated developmental process. And I can say that both guys are right in line with that discussion.
“Both guys showed up in better condition. Both guys were able to assume and to absorb more reps because of it. And both guys are more game-ready as we approach game one. And that just takes the experience of what they had in 2019 out of it.”
Bush, who led all NFL rookies in tackles in 2019, has seemingly been a proverbial picture of health since the Steelers traded up and selected in the first-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Johnson, on the other hand, had to fight through a lot of small and nagging injuries throughout his 2019 rookie season. Even so, the Toledo product still managed to lead all rookie wide receivers in receptions in 2019. He had his groin fixed during the offseason and seemingly overcame a minor foot injury this past week as well.
In summation, according to Tomlin Saturday night, both Bush and Johnson are both expected to be ready to get their second season off to a strong start Monday night against the Giants.
“Just pure readiness, they’re in a better place,” Tomlin said of the Steelers two young players.