As it pertains to depth, the Pittsburgh Steelers have issues at a few positions. Inside linebacker would be one of those positions. This isn’t suggesting Vince Williams or Devin Bush aren’t capable of anchoring the middle of the defense, but if one of those two players is lost due to injury it could mean trouble for the black-and-gold.
Think back to when the Steelers lost Ryan Shazier in 2017 and were forced to sign Sean Spence off the couch to try and fill those massive shoes.
We all know how that worked out.
That is the kind of drop off the team faces now if Bush or Williams would be lost for any stretch of time with an injury. Ulysees Gilbert III is entering his second year, and Robert Spillane is hoping to solidify the spot once occupied by Tyler Matakevich, but those names hardly give fans a warm and fuzzy feeling when talking about ‘what if’ scenarios.
If Bush and Williams are able to stay healthy, and remain the key cogs on the defense, the position should be able to thrive. In fact, Williams sees the former Michigan standout making some serious strides entering his sophomore season as a professional.
This per Missi Matthews of Steelers.com:
Vince added that "Devin is making tremendous strides" in terms of making that Year 2 jump Coach Tomlin always talks about. Vince said he's noticed little things like Devin coming in at a consistent time every single day.— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 5, 2020
Bush had what few rookies get to experience as a rookie, and that is a full season under his belt. Bush was a mainstay on the defense. Bush played in all 16 games and amassed 109 combined tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble 2 interceptions and 4 pass defenses last year, and this experience will only help him improve in Year 2.
But the fact remains Bush is hardly a seasoned veteran when it comes to the intricacies within the defense. It is Bush’s position which has to make calls to the rest of the defense, ensure everyone is where they are supposed to be and know what they are supposed to do.
No one can expect Bush to be perfect in this regard, and during a recent group interview with local reporters, Williams said he is assisting Bush with these duties to help get him acclimated and accustomed to the role.
This also from Missi Matthews:
Vince Williams said he is trying to lead by example in terms of communicating on the field for Devin Bush.— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 5, 2020
The Steelers have long been known for their linebackers, both inside and outside, and Williams knows what being a Steeler linebacker is all about. He wears it as a badge of honor and realizes the fans’ expectations of not just him and the team, but the position.
There is a long lineage of great linebackers from Jack Lambert to James Farrior, and Williams, along with Bush, are just trying to carve out their own niche in that history every time they put on the jersey and step between the white lines.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they continue through Training Camp at Heinz Field, and prepare for the upcoming 2020 regular season.