The inside linebacker position is a position which physically requires a lot. The ability to step up into the hole and stop the run, but also the athleticism to play in space and cover the field from sideline to sideline.
On top of that, the position has changed drastically the past two decades. The giant inside linebackers with the neck collars are things of the past. In their place are linebackers who look more like hybrid safeties, and can run like receivers.
Think Ryan Shazier.
With the change in offenses, the defense must change as well. Offenses are using athletic, flex-type tight ends to exploit matchups over the middle of the field. The way the Steelers have countered these changes is trading up in the 2019 NFL Draft to select Devin Bush out of Michigan.
Bush played a ton as a rookie, and is using that experience to help him be a better player, and communicator, in 2020. But as Bush prepares for the upcoming season, he is tasked to stopping a player the Steelers acquired in free agency. A player who brings a unique skill set to the offense.
That player would be one Eric Ebron.
During a Zoom call with reporters Friday, Bush talked about just how difficult it is to cover Ebron. In doing so, he gives a glimpse to how Ebron can impact the Steelers’ offense this year.
This per Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Steelers LB Devin Bush on new TE Eric Ebron: "He's very elite with his athleticism and how rangy he is. He has receiver-like movements, his cuts are receiver-like, his speed, the way he catches the ball, he's good at using his body. He's a mismatch with any position."— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) August 21, 2020
Ebron is not new to the NFL, but how he can be utilized in the Steelers’ offense certainly will be. It has been years since the team has had a tight end who has the athleticism of Ebron. Heath Miller was a fan favorite, and an amazing tight end, but he was never a threat to run by a defensive back.
The Steelers thought they had this type of player when they signed Ladarius Green in free agency, but his health truly prevented the fan base from ever seeing it come to fruition.
Now they have Ebron, and Bush can already see the kind of mismatch he will be for opposing defenses.
This per Brooke Pryor of ESPN:
Devin Bush says TE Eric Ebron is "a mismatch with any positions you put him at" because of his long arms and ability to run routes.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 21, 2020
Like Green, Ebron has had injury issues the past few seasons. Most recently was an ankle injury which hindered his production in 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts. The year prior it was Ebron who was a Pro Bowl player putting up double-digit touchdowns.
As with most players, health is always the biggest concern.
James Conner is great, when healthy.
Stephon Tuitt is tremendous, when healthy.
You get the picture, but it seems as if Steelers teammates, mainly the man tasked with trying to cover Ebron on occasion during this training camp, is already seeing what he can do for the offense this season.
And his comments should get fans excited...
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the upcoming 2020 regular season.