Despite Ten First Half Tackles, Bush Wanted More

Watch as Steelers first-round pick talks about his big night

Josh Rowntree
August 10, 2019 - 12:36 am

Devin Bush was the star of the Steelers’ first preseason game. But, in his eyes, there was a little left on the table.

The Steelers’ first-round pick made ten tackles, all in the first half, including a stop on a 4th and inches run with his team down a touchdown, helping the Steelers to a 30-28 win over Tampa Bay at Heinz Field.

“I had a lot of fun tonight,” Bush said. “First NFL game, the atmosphere was crazy, being on the field was crazy, hearing the fans was crazy. It was a good night.”

But among all the good was one play that was seemingly sticking with Bush after the game.  During the second quarter, Bush nearly intercepted a pass in the flat, intended for Bucs tight end Tanner Hudson. The ball went through his hands, hit his facemark. Though the play ultimately would not have counted due to a roughing the passer call, Bush would have scored had he secured the ball.

“A lot more to improve on, just with the small stuff, understanding more, soaking up everything and just learning the game," he said. "Should’ve had a pick. It hit me right in the facemask. 

“I’ve got to get better with that. I’ve got to frame that one. With the pass drops, I think I’ve got to — no, I know I’ve got to — get better with that. Get my hands on balls more. Create turnovers.”

Despite the one missed opportunity, there was plenty for Steelers fans to get excited about with the player Pittsburgh traded up ten spots to take in this year’s NFL Draft. 

"I was less concerned about his productivity and more concerned about his demeanor,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “And I really liked his demeanor. He was present, it wasn't too big for him. He handled the communication responsibilities associated with his job. He was alert and those are good signs.”

Clearly his coaches are impressed. So are his teammates. 

“I was probably the least surprised person in the stadium,” said rookie tight end Zach Gentry, who played with Bush at Michigan. “To be able to just be around him every day for the last three and a half years, it was just really cool seeing him in a Steelers uniform doing what he’s able to do.”

Bush came out of the gate flying, making three tackles on Tampa Bay’s opening drive. But, the Bucs scored. After that, however, the Bucs only managed three points the rest of the half, with Bush patrolling the field. 

“I think it kind of slowed down after the first couple of plays,” he said. “It wasn’t anything overwhelming. I got a feel for it after the first couple of snaps.”

Cautious optimism is likely the right approach for the Steelers and their fans after watching a half of football from Bush, who had a marquee moment in the first half. Tampa, up 7-0, elected to attempt to convert on fourth-and-inches. But Bush, in combination with outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi, converged to drive Bucs running back Andre Ellington backwards.

The crowd, despite about 20,000 empty seats, erupted.

“I saw the potential tonight,” Bush said. “This is a football city and I got that feeling tonight.”