Thirty years ago this month, former Steelers running back Tim Worley made his professional football debut in a preseason game against the Eagles at old Veterans Stadium.
Worley was a high draft choice, and the anticipation of his arrival was fairly palpable, especially on the heels of a 5-11 disaster of a season in 1988. On Worley’s first carry, Stan Savran, the Steelers TV play-by-play man for preseason action in those days, called the play with an excitement in his voice normally reserved for the final seconds of a Week 16 regular season match-up. Unfortunately for Worley, he battled both professional and personal demons and never came close to living up to the hype or the excitement in Stan’s voice.
Devin Bush, the inside linebacker from Michigan who the Steelers traded into the top 10 to select in the 2019 NFL Draft, made his professional debut Friday night as he and the rest of the Steelers took on the Buccaneers at Heinz Field in the first preseason game of 2019.
Bush made his first tackle at some point in the first quarter, and I don’t recall Bob Pompeani, the Steelers current TV play-by-play man for preseason action, describing it in an excited way.
Bush didn’t necessarily make a thunderous debut, save for combining with Ola Adeniyi to stuff a fourth and one running play that snuffed out a long Tampa Bay drive early in the second quarter.
Bush did lead the defense in tackles with 10—including seven solo. Although, he did play the entire first half, therefore, his head coach may have been the first to tell him that it’s not much of a surprise when a Steelers inside linebacker leads the team in tackles under those circumstances.
No, Bush didn’t dazzle on Friday night, but he did look fairly comfortable, which was nice to see. I’m sure mistakes were made—he is a rookie, after all—but they didn’t jump out at you as you watched him do his thing.
Bush was here, he was there, he was everywhere. He knocked down a pass that he came within inches of intercepting and taking to the house (and, even though it would have been called back for a roughing the passer penalty against Tyson Alualu, Pompeani certainly would have had a chance to put some thunder in his voice as he described the action). Bush spent the night chasing down receivers, running backs and quarterbacks—he looked like he did in the many YouTube videos that highlight his days wreaking havoc as a Wolverine.
He also looked at home, like the moment wasn’t too big for him, as Mike Tomlin is often fond of saying when talking about his rookies.
It’s obviously way too early to anoint Bush as the second-coming of Ryan Shazier—or even Larry Foote. But it’s not too early to be excited about his future and just how far he can progress once he does figure everything out and the game begins to slow down for him.
If Devin Bush does evolve into a special talent at inside linebacker, Bob Pompeani and many other NFL announcers will have plenty of chances to act excited when they watch him do his thing on the football field.