Devin Bush’s sophomore year was off to a solid start. Until it wasn’t. Making a tackle along the sideline in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns, Bush tore his ACL, ending his season. Everything since has been about rehab, recovery, and a race to get ready for Week One of 2022. Speaking with reporters in a Wednesday Zoom call, Bush updated the status of his rehab and knee injury, noting he’s almost fully recovered.
“I’m about 80, 90%,” Bush told the group of reporters. “I’ll be ready once camp comes around.”
In five games last season, Bush registered 26 tackles, three pass breakups, and one sack. The Steelers’ defense slowly began to degrade after he was out of the lineup. The team continued to be hit hard with injuries and illness at inside linebacker and lost their hub of communication with Bush out of the lineup. He had assumed “green dot” duties for the season prior to his injury.
Bush has been at OTAs this spring and said he’s worked in individual drills, though it’s clear the team is still being cautious with him. Based on what he said today, it’s doubtful he will begin training camp on the PUP list, though the team could still be careful and manage his snap count in the early going.
“I’m doing a lot of individual [work]. Just getting me out there, getting on the grass and doing reactive things. They’re holding me out of competition just because it’s not needed right now. But I’m out there going through my progressions, my motions, going through my movements and my calls. Just getting back to football again.”
He said his biggest hurdle, the last one he has to overcome, is the mental side of his rehab.
“Physically, you know you can get over this. You can recover from it, come out of it. But it’s the mental part of getting back out there and, and going full speed without thinking about it.”
Bush’s return is a boost to a Steelers’ defense that looks different than a year ago. No Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, or Steven Nelson. He’ll bring more speed to the middle of the defense and is a vastly better option matching up on running backs in space than Vince Williams or Avery Williamson. Both players allowed a QB rating of 130 or worse when targeted in 2020.
In 2021, Bush is expected to start next to either Williams or Robert Spillane. Pittsburgh released Williams this offseason in a cost-cutting move, but re-signed him for the minimum about a month later. The Steelers have quality depth behind their starters: Whoever loses out between Williams/Spillane, Ulysees Gilbert III, Marcus Allen, and fourth-round pick Buddy Johnson.