How long will it be before Devin Bush loses his starting job on Steelers?

Devin Bush #55 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Devin Bush #55 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t come close to getting the play they desired from Devin Bush. Here’s why his role could diminish throughout the 2022 season.

The clock is ticking on Devin Bush and his time as a starting linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers; I think we can all agree on that. After showing promise as a rookie when he recorded 109 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 1.0 sacks, 2 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, and a defensive touchdown (via Pro Football Reference), the splash plays over the past two seasons have been almost completely nonexistent.

Many fans wonder how much this has to do with the ACL injury he suffered just five games into his second season in 2020. Admittedly, he does look like a different player after the injury — one who lacks the speed and aggression he once played with.

Whatever the case, we all can agree that Bush has not been very good and has fallen well short of the lofty expectations we had for him when the Steelers traded up to the 10th overall pick in 2019 to select him. Bush is clearly on the outs, and it seems like just a matter of time before his starting role on the team diminishes. I think that could happen early in the season.

Which Steelers LBs will cut into Bush’s role?

Already, we have seen Robert Spillane start to carve out some starting snaps late in Steelers training camp despite a mostly healthy Devin Bush on hand. Spillane doesn’t have elite size or athletic traits to boast about, but he did prove to be a serviceable starter in Bush’s absence when he went down in 2020. Even last year as a backup, he was still able to see the field for 37 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps.

While Bush saw roughly 80 percent of defensive snaps last season in only 14 games played, I would expect that percentage to plummet in 2022 — especially if he doesn’t show something from the gate. Spillane will take many of those snaps from him and this could get to a point where the Steelers almost have a co-starter for the spot opposite of Myles Jack.

This might be a bit premature, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see rookie LB Mark Robinson throw his hat in the ring for some defensive snaps this year. Robinson has been a downhill thumper early in the preseason and has really impressed the coaching staff.

Obviously, the seventh-round draft choice still needs to make the team first, and I wouldn’t expect this to happen right away. However, I can certainly see a scenario in which Bush and Spillane are struggling halfway through the season, and Mike Tomlin turns to the rookie to see if he’s up to the challenge.

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By the end of the season, I would probably be surprised if Devin Bush was playing more than 50 percent of the snaps for the Steelers per game. He is going to have to take a massive step forward in order to avoid losing his starting spot in what could very well be his final season in Pittsburgh.