Handling Expectations, First-Team Reps on Devin Bush’s Plate

Steelers first-round pick in mix to be starter early in career

Josh Rowntree
June 12, 2019 - 2:12 pm
Steelers ILB Devin Bush at OTAs in 2019

Josh Rowntree - 93.7 The Fan

Devin Bush is learning, on the fly, to deal with the responsibilities being thrown at him. 

Bush, drafted tenth overall by Pittsburgh in April’s NFL Draft — a position the Steelers had to move up to via trade — is getting first team reps at inside linebacker. 

“Every day is a lesson learned for me,” Bush said following Tuesday’s minicamp session. “I come in and learn something new every day and I keep my mind open to new ideas and new ways of going about this job and handling everything that goes along with it. I feel like I’ve grown every week.”

Bush’s life and, in general, the life of a rookie is a hectic one from the end of the college season until the end of their first NFL season. But Bush seems to be settling in.

“I feel like I’m a part of it now, but once it actually becomes football and we put pads on and start testing the real things about football, I think that’s where I flourish the most. 

“I’m just getting myself better, keeping my head in the playbook, watching more film and getting my body ready for training camp.”

His coaches are taking notice. Bush is in. a three-man rotation for the two inside linebacker spots. Veteran Vince Williams and newly signed Mark Barron are seeing time there, as well.

“We’re teaching him our defense and that’s wha that guy does,” Pittsburgh inside linebacker coach Jerry Olsavsky said. “The defensive quarterback, they’ve got to change stuff when the other team’s quarterback changes stuff. That’s what we envision him doing and that’s why we drafted him.

“It’s a joy to coach him. He’s very talented athletically. He likes it, he likes to hit people and he knows what the game’s about.”

Pittsburgh took a risk by moving up to select Bush, who was ranked the second-best inside linebacker in the NFL Draft, behind LSU’s Devin White, who was picked by Tampa Bay.

“I’m glad (Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert) did what he did, to be honest with you,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler said. “We knew what we wanted going into the Draft. The guys we wanted were the Devins. When the first one went early, Kevin did a great thing in terms of moving up. 

“I mean, the last time we moved up we took Troy Polamalu and went to three Super Bowls and won two of them. So, doing that, it puts a lot of pressure on us. But that’s okay, I’m good for that.”

The workload will likely be a heavy one for Bush, who is trying to draw from his teammates in order to handle the learning curve. 

“Everybody kind of touches me,” Bush said. “I look to seek out as many people as I can, because 20 minds are better than one. You get different opinions, you get different ways of looking at things, different perspectives. That’s an advantage.”

Beyond the on-field catching up Bush has had to go through, he also has to learn how to be a professional and become accustomed to a city he was unfamiliar with before being selected. 

“Just getting acclimated was the biggest adjustment for me,” he said. “I’ve been on the grind since I started the pre-Draft process. So, now that I’m actuality here, my mind had to flip to ‘okay, this is your job, this is where you’re going to be at, so let’s get it started.’”

Among those Bush is drawing from is Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who has helped him get up to speed, despite still recovering from a spinal injury in December 2017. 

“It’s a guy that I look up to,” Bush said. “Vince (Williams) is a guy that I look up to. All those guys, I look up to. To have (Shazier), his knowledge, his presence, it’s shows that he’s here. Ryan could be somewhere else, doing something completely different. He’s invested in the team because he loves football.”

“I think losing Shazier, that kind of hurt us,” Pittsburgh cornerback Joe Haden added. “With Bush, I think he’s very, very athletic. I was hoping in the Draft that we got him or (Devin) White. Those were the two guys I was looking at and he’s definitely going to help our defense out.”

Minicamp wraps up Thursday. The team then gets over a month off before heading to Latrobe for training camp. That will be when the pads go on, when the preseason begins and football, as Bush says, becomes football. 

Bush is, already, the frontrunner to be the starter for the Steelers on opening night in New England. But that should come as no surprise. Given how highly Pittsburgh’s leadership thinks of him, and how highly he was selected, Bush should be ready to roll against Tom Brady and crew.

“There will be great expectation for him because of that,” Butler said. “But that’s okay because in order to be successful in the League, you’ve got to perform under pressure. He’s going to have to do that.”

Hear all of what Devin Bush had to say below.