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Steelers CB Darius Rush Ready to ‘Step Up’ in 2024

Darius Rush is apart of a thin position room and the Steelers are looking for him and the other young corners to step up in 2024.

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Pittsburgh Steelers CB Darius Rush
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Darius Rush at the team's OTAs, May 22, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Steelers liked Darius Rush as a cornerback prospect heading into the 2023 NFL Draft but never drafted him. Instead, the Indianapolis Colts drafted Rush in the fifth round. The Colts waived Rush as part of their final roster cuts and then the Kansas City Chiefs picked him up.

After spending just over two months on the Chiefs practice squad, the Steelers signed him to their active roster. To sum it up, Rush’s rookie season was a rollercoaster ride for him but he is grateful that his final landing spot was Pittsburgh.

“It’s been a long journey for sure, but just to be back in this building, I’m grateful, grateful, grateful for the opportunity and just looking forward to carving out a role here in this organization, whether it’s defense or special teams,” Rush told Alan Saunders of Steelers Now. “I’m just here to compete every day and instill some trust into these coaches to show that I’m able to compete and play for them.”

Last year, Rush joined a cornerback room that featured two other rookies in Joey Porter Jr. and Cory Trice, albeit Trice was on the injured reserve all season. After losing two of their top corners from the 2023 season, the Steelers did little to replace them, showing their faith in the trio of young guys.

While he and Trice still have a lot to prove, Rush recognized that the team displayed faith in the two unproven guys with their lack of moves. With that knowledge, Rush is ready to go out and prove himself like Porter did last year.

“It shows that they are looking towards us to have a big year, to take a step up from year one to year two” Rush said. “We just have to go out there and compete and prove them right so they can trust us, they can put us on the field to go out there and execute and go make plays and win us some ball games. … I just got to go out there and carve a name out for myself.”

While Porter and Trice went viral last year after being called “avatar” cornerbacks by coaches, Rush fits into that mold, too, as he stands at 6-foot-2. Their frames, draft year and potentials all have intertwined the three young corners which has helped blossom a friendship between the three.

“It also builds that chemistry at the end of the day,” Rush said about the group’s friendship. “Just to go out there everyday and compete with one another, helping each other out at whatever it may be. Like I said, everything is an opportunity and it’s a great one just to be with those guys and always learning from each other and seeing what we can help each other with is great.”

Regardless, Rush is unproven despite his sporadic game appearances in 2023. He flashed his potential in OTAs with multiple pass breakups and wants to be known as a disruptor in the passing game moving forward. That comes with consistency which is something Rush has been working on, staying consistent.

“I play the cornerback position and that is in my job description,” Rush said. “That is something that I am supposed to do and I just got to go out there and do it consistently. … You just got to be consistent in your craft and that’s what I plan on doing.”

If Rush makes the team, he could find a role on special teams as Danny Smith reportedly loves Rush and has featured him on every specials unit during the offseason. Rush is more than willing to star on special teams and is ready to compete on defense and on special teams.

“What I have on special teams is really going out there and, and showcasing what I can do whether it’s the gunner squad, jammer squad, kick-off or kick-off or turn being a front line guy or anything like that, you know, so just to go out there and that’s another way to carve my name in this organization,” Rush said. “So just got to really go out there and just compete on defense as well and just compete on special teams as well.”

With little depth brought in this offseason, Rush is likely to make the team’s final roster. While anybody’s spot can be stolen in camp, well expect for Porter’s, Rush and Trice seem primed for chances to breakout in camp and the preseason.

21 • Darius Rush, Cornerback, South Carolina
6-foot-2, 198 pounds, 24 years old, 2nd Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Darius Rush as a free agent off of the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad on Oct. 17, 2023.

Last seasonDarius Rush was selected in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. However, he did not last long there. The Colts waived Rush in their final round of cuts, and then the Chiefs claimed him.

Kansas City then waived him on Sept. 16 and added him to their practice squad. He spent two months and one day on the Chiefs practice squad before the Steelers signed him to their active roster.

Rush appeared in three games for the Steelers and totaled three tackles and one defended pass.

Steelers Darius Rush

Steelers defensive backs Damontae Kazee and Darius Rush celebrate after a play against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 26, 2023 — Ed Thompson / Seelers Now

Year GP Tackles INTs PDs
2023 3 3 0 1

CollegeDarius Rush originally committed to the University of South Carolina as a wide receiver. Rush switched to cornerback after his he redshirted his freshman season. In 2019 and 2020, Rush appeared in 20 combined games and served primarily as a special teamer.

As a redshirt junior, Rush stepped into a full-time defensive starter as he started 12 of 13 games for the Gamecocks. He combined for 25 tackles, nine passes defended and one interception.

In 2022, Rush started nine of 10 games and recorded a career-high 38 tackles and two interceptions. He added another nine defended passes. Over his five years at South Carolina, Rush played in 43 games and logged 74 tackles, three interceptions and 18 passes defended.

Following his final collegiate season, Rush accepted invitations to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.

Year GP GS TKLs INTs PDs
2018 0 0 0 0 0
2019 12 0 3 0 0
2020 8 0 8 0 0
2021 13 12 25 1 9
2022 10 9 38 2 9

Salary cap and future: Darius Rush will cost $915,000 against the Steelers cap space in 2024. He will become a free agent following this season.

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