As we’ve done in previous years, we’re taking a look at those Pittsburgh Steelers under futures contracts for the 2022 offseason. The ones who spent most if not the entire year on the practice squad and what we can expect from them during training camp (hopefully) into the regular season.
Rico Bussey/WR Hawaii – 6’2″ 190 lbs.
As we near the end of the 2022 Futures reports, we turn to a name who briefly caught fire in training camp. Camp legend (?) Rico Bussey, who showed what a training camp star – and only that – looks like. Bussey looked solid in shorts and shells without any contact. But once the pads came on and the dog days of summer kicked in, he began to fade.
He had one big practice last year, including excelling in a practice-ending two-minute drill, leading fans to wonder if the team found another diamond in the rough. But Bussey, like lots of new faces, faded down the stretch and became an afterthought at final cutdowns. It’s a story common for camp receivers. Damoun Patterson briefly was the talk of the summer. Now, most peopled don’t even remember the name or elicit an “Oh yeah, he sorta sounds familiar’ if you ask.
In our training camp recap, we wrote on Bussey:
“He had one impressive practice early in camp, one that came in shells and not even full pads. Beyond that, he didn’t make a ton of plays. To his credit, he might be the best actual wide receiver in terms of talent and skillset with a nice blend of size, speed, and hands.
But he, and it happens every year, waned down the stretch. Here are his splits between his first six and last seven camp practices.
First Six: 9 catches, 115 yards 2 TDs
Last Seven: 8 catches, 86 yards 1 TD
Over the last three days, he caught three passes for four yards. And his impact felt even worse than that. In-game, he had a moment or two, securing a Cover 2 hole shot from Dwayne Haskins’ wobbly throw versus the Eagles.
He could make the practice squad for the talent he has. But it’s a crowded room and Bussey offers little on special teams. Saturday, he played just one snap there Saturday compared to Cody White’s five and Anthony Johnson’s seven.”
Bussey signed as a UDFA out of Hawaii following the 2021 draft. Released at final cutdowns, he signed to the team’s practice squad in September. But six days later, he was placed on the rarely-used practice squad/injured reserve list. He stayed there all the way until December 29th, activated off practice squad-IR in a corresponding move for Tyler Vaughns, who went onto the COVID list. He wasn’t elevated in the final few weeks of regular and postseason play and was released by the team January 7th as the team added O-line depth and got Diontae Johnson off his short COVID-list stint. Bussey inked a futures deal shortly after the season ended.
Bussey is no longer a rookie and should be better equipped to handle the rigors of an entire training camp. Replicating his hot start with a stronger finish once the pads come on will be key. Though it’ll change from now until then, the receivers room looks light, so Bussey could compete for a spot with a more consistent second year.