Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: ILB Devin Bush
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The fourth-year veteran was under a lot of pressure to perform this season. While he has not raised his play to such a level as to be beyond reproach, Bush has certainly improved upon his most recent showings from a year ago after returning from a serious knee injury.
You weren’t really expecting to see Devin Bush’s name featured in this column with a ‘stock up’ designation any time this year, did you? Well, let’s make one thing clear: he’s still showing some of the same serious issues that he had last year. But he’s also making a lot more plays, playing more instinctually, and generally not being such a liability.
The former top-10 pick has I believe, by now, shown us who he is as an NFL player, and that is somebody who is limited. I don’t think he’s ever going to play with the requisite level of physicality to consistently shed blocks. I don’t think he’s ever going to consistently take the smart angles instead of spinning himself out of plays.
But when he isn’t turning himself into a non-factor on plays, Bush has actually been making some of them. The obvious highlight of his season—one of the best plays of his career—was the pass breakup at the goal line two Sundays ago on a two-point conversion attempt that preserved a two-point lead.
He had another pass defensed on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins and is now up to 42 tackles on the season, including his first tackle for loss of the year on Sunday as well. And he is making tackles that are wins for the defense.
Worth noting is the fact that the Steelers only have Bush playing about two thirds of the snaps this season. Myles Jack, as you would expect, is seeing the most regular playing time, moving upward toward 90 percent of the snaps, but between Robert Spillane getting work and the usage of dime packages, they have been able to limit Bush’s playing time, as well.