PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Steelers relied heavily on inside linebacker Devin Bush during the 2020 season. Really heavy.
The inside linebacker doesn’t expect that to change once he’s fully cleared to come back from an ACL tear in his right knee that cut short his sophomore year in the NFL.
Bush didn’t miss a defensive snap last season until he took an awkward step against Cleveland on Oct. 18, tearing his ACL apart in the process. While estimating that he is at 80-90% in terms of recovery, he plans to be a player every time he comes back.
“I’m ready for this,” Bush said Wednesday. “It’s definitely something that I’m going to have to adjust to come out of an injury. But I can’t wait to play 100 percent of the snaps.
Something he did in 2020 until that fateful game against the Browns. Bush was on cover against D’Ernest Jackson of Cleveland when his right knee gave way as a pass was incomplete. He hobbled to the medical tent and then out of sight until the team’s organized activities began last month.
Bush underwent surgery and spent most of the nearly eight months in Pittsburgh, in part so the team could closely monitor his recovery. Things seem to be going as planned. Bush spent part of the day on Wednesday dragging a 50-pound weight behind him on an 80-yard run.
The former Michigan star, 22, is still limited to freelance work for now, though he expects to be ready to go when the Steelers show up for training camp at St. Vincent College. next month. Much of his training now focuses on reading and reacting. No need for contact, even limited during OTAs.
“They keep me away from the competition because it’s not necessary at the moment,” he said.
The Steelers are hoping Bush’s return will help solidify a running defense that faltered late in the season following injuries to Bush, outside linebacker Bud Dupree and inside linebacker Rob Spillane. Pittsburgh allowed 66.2 rushing yards with Bush on the roster and 116.2 with Bush out.
This makes it essential to find a way to consolidate the midfield, especially in a division that includes strong running teams like Baltimore and Cleveland.
“It’s always something in football, you never want to leave the midfield open. This is the easiest throw. The easiest racing game, ”said Bush. “You can call anything if the middle is open. It’s just the ability to play stout. Be on the same page and play fast.
Bush expects to maintain the line-to-line speed that drove the Steelers to select him with the 10th overall pick in the 2019 Draft.
When asked if he could cover Cleveland wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the lunge, Bush offered a brief and direct assessment.
“Yes,” he said. “100%.”
When he gets there, it will mean that the most difficult year of his very young career will be decidedly in the rearview mirror.
“It was hard not being able to play football, not going out with your teammates,” said Bush. “It will always be difficult to sit still and watch as a competitor. This is something that I have experienced and that I have experienced and it is in the past now.
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