When Pittsburgh Steelers’ inside linebacker Devin Bush went down with a torn ACL in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field, the lack of overall depth at the inside linebackers position was put on full display. Without its star linebacker in the middle defending the run and pass with the best of them, the Steelers’ vaunted defense gradually fell off, ultimately being exposed in the AFC Playoffs against the Cleveland Browns, ending a promising season.
Now, with Bush working his way back from injury, Vince Williams back in the fold, and Robert Spillane with legitimate starting experience under his belt — not to mention the additional depth of guys like draft pick Buddy Johnson and young linebackers Marcus Allen, Ulysees Gilbert and Tegray Scales — the Steelers look pretty solid in the middle one year after having to trade a draft pick away for Avery Williamson and fully convert Allen to the position just to try and shore up depth.
Bush looks relatively healthy at this point in the offseason and appears poised for a big third season in Pittsburgh, a season in which NFL.com contributor and CBS Sports Radio personality Adam Schein is excited to see from Bush, highlighting the third-year linebacker in a list of nine players he’s excited to watch work back from injury in 2021.
“It might surprise you, but Devin Bush is one of my favorite players in the NFL,” Schein writes. “He was put on Earth to play linebacker for the Steelers. When he got hurt in mid-October last season, Pittsburgh lost its man in the middle, a critical cog in Mike Tomlin’s defense. Bush is a leader. He’s brilliant. He’s physical. He’s nasty. He’s instinctual. And he flies around the field making plays. Bud Dupree’s free agency relocation to Tennessee took some bite out of the Steelers’ defense, but Bush will be a real difference-maker once again on the second level. And with Ben Roethlisberger closing in on 40, the Steelers will heavily rely on their defense to set the tone.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bush is held in such high regard in the NFL media, considering he’s a former top 10 pick who has performed at a high level when on the field. It’s a bit surprising to hear Schein praise Bush in this way, stating he’s a “leader” and “brilliant.” It remains to be seen if Bush is a true leader on this team, but when healthy he is certainly one of the better young linebackers in the game.
With him returning from injury, the defense should be able to return to form that they showed early in the season before the young linebacker went down. His ability to return and play at a high level could go a long way for the Steelers’ chances in 2021.