PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie Darius Rush was a surprise contributing player against the Tennessee Titans. The rookie cornerback out of South Carolina played a surprising 30 snaps on the team’s dime package. He replaced James Pierre in that role and after weeks of picking up the defense, got his shot. While Rush blew a coverage early resulting in a big gain, after that, he increasingly got better with the more time they gave him. He almost ended the game with a near interception.
Pro Football Focus charged him with three receptions for 37 yards on four targets. So, why was the rookie able to play so early after coming over from the Kansas City Chiefs? For one, the team likely wanted to see what they add in their young cornerback. Second, he came in like a veteran and picked the defense up quickly. Patrick Peterson was able to mentor him right away because of how Rush embraced it.
“Man, I’m going to say I didn’t even know he was a rookie when he first came in because of how professional he was.” Peterson said. “He came in wanting to learn and became a sponge. You know, he came to guys like myself to learn the defense quickly. He’s got a lot of talent. The way he handled himself really got him up to speed quickly.”
A fifth-round pick out of South Carolina, Rush was cut by the Indianapolis Colts after training camp and caught on with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he was on the practice squad until the Steelers came calling. A healthy scratch in his first week with Pittsburgh, he received his first shot on an NFL field on Thursday. He has now been active for two straight games but did not take a snap against the Jaguars.
In the week leading up to the Jaguars game, he took first team reps, a show of faith from the coaching staff that they liked how he was handling himself and that opportunities could be on the way.
“It took a long week of preparation to get here, and getting into the playbook since I’ve been here and getting an opportunity when I have the opportunity to take those reps, I have to make sure I know what I’m doing.” Rush said. “So, that takes a lot of preparation and leaning on the vet guys to get into those spots, along with Coach (Grady) Brown helping me out along the way. It’s allowed me to learn the playbook, and it’s my responsibility to play in those situations and execute.”
It’s uncertain how Rush will play the rest of the season, but his first game action has flashes of his athleticism and length. Pittsburgh will hope to see that more going forward in the season.