Devin Bush is listed as the starting left inside linebacker on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ initial depth chart for Week 1 of the 2022 season, as released by the team on Monday.
Bush had been battling with Robert Spillane to maintain his role as a starter alongside free agent acquisition Myles Jack, and it appears that Bush has prevailed.
The team’s first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Bush has started since he was a rookie, but his career changed trajectories after an ACL injury in 2020. When he returned in 2021, Bush wasn’t the same player, and yielded playing time to Spillane, former undrafted free agent, particularly on third downs.
Bush was a big part of a defense that finished dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and yards per attempt against last season. Pro Football Focus gave him a 27.2 run defense grade in 2021, dead last in the NFL among players that dressed for five games or more. Bush posted run defense marks of 63.3 and 61.1 in his first two seasons.
A former undrafted free agent, Spillane got his big shot after Bush’s injury in 2020 and played well alongside then-starter Vince Williams. He was able to retain his role even after the Steelers acquired Avery Williamson in a trade.
Bush winning the starting job doesn’t necessarily mean he will dominate the playing time. Last season, Bush started 14 games, missing two with a groin injury. He played 79% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps. Spillane made four starts, and played in 37% of the Steelers’ defensive snaps.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said during training camp that he expected both players to play a good bit this season, regardless of who won the job, calling both of them “varsity” players.
Rookie Mark Robinson is listed as the top backup to Jack at right inside linebacker, with special teams ace Marcus Allen behind Robinson.