Mike Tomlin spoke to the media after Monday’s training camp practice back at Saint Vincent College Monday afternoon, which was the first practice the Steelers have had since their exciting 32-25 win against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night in Week 1 of preseason action. Tomlin addressed what the evaluation process is like in the stadium compared to out on the practice field, and spoke about the injuries suffered in the game as well as the play of the offensive line and the QBs.
When asked about Devin Bush and Robert Spillane, who were rotating at with the first-team defense with Myles Jack playing as the other starter, Tomlin acknowledged that the two linebackers are battling with one another for snaps on the starting defensive unit.
“I would imagine that both guys are varsity in their abilities, so there is going to be a role for them,” Tomlin said to the media on video provided by Steelers.com. “But make no mistake, there is a competition component to what is transpiring here in terms of diving the labor up for sure.”
When watching the game Saturday night, it appeared as if Bush again struggled to make much of an impact on the defensive side of the ball. He seemed tentative at times to come downhill and fill against the run, specifically on one play where RB Travis Homer bounced a run to the outside and he was caught flat-footed on the play, having Homer run right across his face for a nice gain.
It was believed that Bush was seeing some improvement in training camp compared to last season, albeit a lack of splash plays. Meanwhile, Spillane has been having a strong camp in that regard, rotating in with the first team unit and getting in on a bunch of plays, including several pass deflections and an INT in team scrimmage. Bush was already on thin ice after a disastrous 2021 campaign, needing a resurgent 2022 season to not only make a case to re-sign with the team, but to keep his starting job.
However, Spillane has taken the bull by the horns as a former UDFA from Western Michigan, pushing the former first-round Wolverine for starting snaps. Bush will need to play better in the next two preseason games to hold off Spillane and be the starter opposite Jack in Pittsburgh’s base defense. If he can’t show more, the division of labor could swing in favor of Spillane come the regular season.