UNITY TWP., Pa. — Devin Bush has not had his NFL career go the way he has wanted to up to this point. The former Top-10 draft pick was a promising rookie who tore his ACL in Year 2. However, since that injury, Bush has simply not looked the same. Now, with his fifth-year option declined, it is Bush’s opportunity to right some wrongs and gets back to where he once was.
It could be his last chance to be a member of the Steelers long-term, but Bush is not necessarily sweating it.
“It’s the business,” Bush said. “I mean, I’m gonna still be in the NFL. So, we’ll see.”
That might not be the answer that people in the Steelers organization or fanbase would want to hear. Still, if this is to be Bush’s last opportunity with the Steelers, his mental hurdles with his injured knee are important to overcome. Bush now feels that after a year and a half out after tearing his ACL. that he can finally put the injury fully behind him.
“I think that’s behind me now,” Bush said of the injury. “You know, now it’s getting accustomed to the DC (Teryl Austin) we got. Obviously, Brian Flores is there with some new ideas. So, it’s more about adjusting to them.”
Bush’s first preseason game did not go the way he wanted it to, either. He even acknowledged that the Steelers and certainly himself “have a lot to learn” from that game. Bush will go back to that tape and learn from it in preparation for the next two preseason games.
“I think we got some good things on tape,” Bush said. “There’s a lot of things to build off of, but we have a lot of things to learn from. I think it was a good thing for us to get out there and put it to the test.”
Bush is looking to start the Week 1 game in Cincinnati. Still, in the team’s first official depth chart, the Steelers listed Bush and Robert Spillane as co-starters. That is a competition that has been brewing throughout training camp to this point. Mike Tomlin acknowledged on Monday that the players are in a competition as the reps were split evenly with the first team.
“I would imagine that both guys are varsity in their abilities so that there’s going to be a role for them,” Tomlin said. “But make no mistake, there’s a competition component to what’s transpiring here in terms of dividing the labor up for sure.”
With that in mind, Bush has to focus on someone potentially taking his starting job next to Myles Jack. Even with that, Bush is not sweating it. He believes that the Steelers could have more than just two linebackers on the field. Instead of a competition, Bush is looking at it more as a rotation.
“I think we’re a good rotation,” Bush said. “I think we have three linebackers that could be on the field at one time. So, it was no shock to me that it’s what they were thinking.”
With Spillane taking some reps away, Bush feels he is well-rested and ready to go for Week 1. There is no concern from his standpoint, instead, he feels that he will be able to come out to start the season with fresher legs.
If there is one aspect to what Bush may be able to do in his final season, it could be about Flores helping him along the way. As it stands, Bush is still struggling, but with Flores as the linebackers’ coach, maybe Flores could unlock something, right? Bush is trying to take well to Flores’s teachings, and he believes that it could help him take the next leap as a player.
“He’s been a good coach,” Bush said. “He breaks things down. Coach has those football conversations. So, from his experience being a head coach on both sides of the ball, he gives you perspective on offensive mentalities and things like that. So, I think that’s one of the things he brings to the table.”
If Flores can help resurrect Bush’s confidence and some of the stuff he had at Michigan and early in his Steelers career, the Steelers could have a great inside linebacking corps. Until then, however, Bush will compete with Spillane for the starting role. If he is to turn things around, Bush will have to be better than he was against the Seahawks.