For a good portion of his first season and into his second, inside linebacker Devin Bush at times did look like he could develop into the guy that the Pittsburgh Steelers believed they were drafting 10th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft—the guy they traded up 10 spots to target.
He became the first player in team history to record over 100 tackles as a rookie, and also had six takeaways. He led the fan voting for the AFC for the Pro Bowl, but ultimately did not get in. He was a bit up and down to begin his sophomore season in 2020, but was trending the right way when he tore his ACL in game five.
He certainly was not the same player last year, something that he acknowledged speaking to reporters yesterday, via audio from 93.7 The Fan, aired on the Cook & Joe Show. “I think early on, at times, I wasn’t happy with my play”, he said. “Of course, I wasn’t happy with losing. I went through some things, personally, but I felt like it was all a learning process for me”.
The Steelers experimented over the course of the season with different roles and combinations, employing Robert Spillane at a dime backer, during which both Bush and Joe Schobert would come off the field. As a result, there were only two games during the year in which Bush played 90 percent of the snaps or more. He played under 80 percent of the snaps in more than a third of his games played.
But he believes in his talent, and he believes that he has the ability to get back to where he was, and back onto that same trajectory. “Before I got hurt, I think I was doing good. I think was on the way to being an All-Pro, Pro Bowler”, he said.
“But, you know, things happen, going through some things”, he added. “I learned a lot along the way, so I think it was supposed to happen to me. So I’m grateful for it, and I’m thankful that I get a chance to go out there and play again”.
That last remark is a sentiment that he expressed multiple times during the interview, and with variations. He doesn’t just get a chance to play football again, but he gets to play “how I want to”, suggesting that he can be closer to his 2019 and early 2020 form further removed from his knee injury and in a healthier mental state.
“I get a chance to play football again, how I want to”, he stated. “For real. I get a chance to go out there and be myself, and I feel like I’m starting a whole new slate and feeling pretty good about it”.
It does seem as though the Steelers will be offering him that opportunity for a clean slate, Bush due to be a full-time starter alongside new acquisition Myles Jack, whose signing prompted the release of Schobert. But the team does have depth with Spillane and second-year Buddy Johnson, ready to take up some of the slack if he doesn’t merit full-time work.