The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted very little time getting Devin Bush acclimated to the first-team defense on the opening day of Organized Team Activities on Tuesday, reportedly including him in a three man rotation at inside linebacker with veterans Mark Barron and Vince Williams.
As per Mike Prisuta of WDVE Radio and Steelers.com, while Bush was not in there for the first snap of the day, it appears that he saw a significant amount of time with the starting unit on day one of OTAs, seemingly being given every opportunity to show the coaching staff what he can do from the outset.
Devin Bush wasn’t with No. 1s on first snap of OTA No. 1. Mark Barron lined up at ILB with Vince Williams. “Yeah, I did,” Barron said. The rest of the time, “We had a (3-man) rotation going,” Barron said. It wasn’t base or sub-package driven. Barron: “It was a pure rotation.” pic.twitter.com/gt2Mm8buZH— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 21, 2019
The ability of the young rookie to be able communicate with the rest of the defense will be key to his development in the early stages of his career, especially if he is to be charged with the task of calling the plays in the huddle. A learning curve that Williams and Cam Heyward are helping him with in their own different ways.
Steelers rookie LB Devin Bush says he's learned a lot from Vince Williams already.— Sarah K. Spencer (@sarah_k_spence) May 21, 2019
"Vince leads a lot by example. He shows you how to communicate, how to conduct an NFL defense, what to look for in checks and just how to play the full game."
Cam Heyward on Devin Bush rotating in with the No. 1s: “It’s kinda weird cheering for a Michigan guy now but I’m going to be his biggest advocate. We were already kidding him about when he was calling the play that he’s gotta get some bass in his voice. But he’s gonna be good.” pic.twitter.com/Nvng8xaUH9— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) May 21, 2019
When speaking to the media after practice, Heyward was understandably reluctant to get too excited about the rookie’s performance after only one day of training out of pads. But also made it clear that he would do what he could to help the former Michigan product adjust to life in the NFL, despite the obvious college rivalry. As reported by Sarah Spencer of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
“It’s the first day, we got to get the jitters out. It’s kind of weird cheering for a Michigan guy now, but I’m going to be his biggest advocate and biggest supporter, so it’s a good starting point. It’s the first day to get him used to us. We were already kidding about when he was calling the plays, he’s got to get some bass in his voice. But that’s just us messing around. He’s going to be good, and we’ll break him in.”
And while Barron might be his rival for the starting role, the offseason free agent signing had nothing put positive things to say about his young rival when talking to reporters.
“I’ve only been around him briefly, but I like his style of play from what I’ve seen. He’s really aggressive, really tenacious, a speedy guy. He gets to the ball, and that’s kind of similar to the way I play. I get to the ball. I like that; anytime I see somebody that gets to the ball and plays with a certain attitude, I like it.”
Of all of the position battles set to be fought this offseason, the one between Barron and Bush could well be the most interesting to watch. But it perhaps worth acknowledging the relative unimportance of who runs with which unit at this stage in the year. If Bush is dominating the first team snap counts when the team gets to Latrobe, that will be the time to really take notice.