The Pittsburgh Steelers are three games into their 2021 season. They have only had third-year inside linebacker Devin Bush out there for two of them. He missed the second game of the season due to a groin injury that he suffered late in the week.
Bush missed most of the 2020 season after tearing his ACL five games in. He was healthy enough to play at the start of this season, however, and seemed to fare well enough in the opener, recording double-digit tackles and moving from sideline to sideline well. He was shakier this past Sunday coming back from the groin injury.
“It’s still an early sample size. He’s coming off a tough injury, but every week we think he’s gonna be getting better and better”, defensive captain Cameron Heyward said of Bush. “Whether it’s communication-wise or what he’s seeing or what he’s feeling, taking time off, you’ve always got to knock off some rust”.
The 10th-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, he was drafted to be their do-everything linebacker, and that is what he was a year ago up until his injury. He may be that again someday, relatively soon in fact, if it suits the team’s interests, but in the meantime, he is still playing his way back to 100 percent—and into a rhythm with his new starting partner, Joe Schobert, who was acquired in August.
“Hopefully by the end of this thing he’s feeling really good”, Heyward said. “I don’t think it’s been that difficult. I just think between him and Joe trying to get the cohesiveness together, trying to balance each other out”.
Bush had just two tackles Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, though the Steelers also dominated time of possession in that game. He only played 38 snaps, yet that accounted for 81 percent of their total defensive snaps. In contrast, he played 73 snaps in week one, which was 86 percent of their snaps.
Schobert has played 88 percent of the Steelers’ snaps so far, including 100 percent in the game that Bush missed. He has 21 tackles in three games, as well as three passes defensed, though he has yet to register any other statistics, even a tackle for loss.
Having another game under his belt, and another week removed from a groin injury, should help Bush, but it won’t help to play on the road against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. This will be a tough assignment, but it was the sort of matchup the Steelers traded up in the first round two years ago to get him for. There is no opportunity for the luxury of excuses for an underperformance.