While the Pittsburgh Steelers have not made anything official yet, it is already amply understood that Pittsburgh Steelers second-year linebacker Devin Bush’s season is over. He sustained what has been reported to be a torn ACL and is set to have season-ending surgery.
The 10th-overall pick in last year’s draft, Bush became an every-down player this year, literally every down up to his knee injury suffered yesterday, and had taken over the role of defensive signal-caller. Second-year former undrafted free agent Robert Spillane took over and played the rest of the snaps in the game—some of the first defensive snaps of his career.
“I just want to start this off with Devin”, he said at the beginning of his Zoom call with the media earlier today, when asked what his role would be moving forward. “Devin is a great teammate and a great person. He’s been one of the best teammates that I ever had, and if anyone knows Devin, you know that he’ll come back stronger than he’s ever been before”.
“I look forward to seeing him get healthy on his road to recovery as we support him”, he added, “and the best way to support him is to go out there and pick up where he left off, to keep making plays, do what I can. I’ll leave the coaching up to the coaches”.
While it’s not likely that the Steelers will ask Spillane to play every snap for the remainder of the season—they have other options to take on some snaps, including Ulysees Gilbert III, Marcus Allen, and Cameron Sutton by employing the dime defense—it appears that they view him as the primary player to fill his role.
Bush was not playing up the stat sheet this season—he had 26 tackles, three passes defensed, and one sack at the time of his injury—but the young Michigan man’s impact on the defense necessarily expands vastly beyond mere statistics.
It seems there are many who feel that the defense will fall apart without him. I’m not about to go that far, but the quality of his play, and the potential for even greater in the near future, cannot be denied. He was getting better as the season went along this year.
The Steelers knew that he had the talent to be a core piece of their defense for a decade or more, which is why they were willing to make a substantial move to trade up and get him. Not having him for what will inevitably be a postseason run is a tough blow, for sure.
But so was losing Stephon Tuitt last year. There’s still plenty of talent on this defense, and nobody will be folding in the towel or bemoaning their plight. Remember, your opponents either don’t care about your problems or are glad that you have them.