Mike Tomlin Reveals Injury to Polarizing Steelers Starter

Getty Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin meets with reporters.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are concerned about more than just dropping a game to a conference rival after their Sept. 18 loss to the New England Patriots.

In a post-game press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin revealed that inside linebacker Devin Bush suffered a foot injury on Pittsburgh’s final defensive stand.

Bush was taken to the medical tent, then to the locker room to be evaluated. Robert Spillane, who typically only plays in dime packages, subbed for the fourth-year linebacker.

Tomlin did not have further details on Bush’s injury. “I don’t have a lot of information regarding injuries,” Tomlin told the Steelers media. “I know Devin Bush wasn’t able to finish the game. He’s got a foot that’s being evaluated.”

Typically MRIs happen on Mondays, and Tomlin shares those results during his Tuesday press conferences.

Before the injury, Bush had four total tackles (two solo), per ESPN.

The Steelers are on a short week, playing Thursday Night Football on Sept. 22 in Cleveland against the Browns. Given the quick turnaround for Pittsburgh, Bush’s injury could prevent him from suiting up given the quick turnaround for Pittsburgh.

Mark Robinson, selected by the Steelers in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL draft, is likely to get the nod in Week 3 if Bush can’t go. He was a healthy scratch for Pittsburgh’s first two games. Though he’s played exclusively on special teams this season, safety-turned-linebacker Marcus Allen is also an option to rotate in with Spillane.

Don’t Call it a Comeback for Devin Bush

Fans often debate upcoming make-or-break years for players during the offseason. One name that consistently came up in that category was Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush.

Though the Steelers had declined his fifth-year option, Bush was in denial regarding his future in the NFL.

“I’m going to still be in the NFL (in 2023), so we’ll see,” Bush said during a media scrum this summer.

What Bush failed to realize is if he continued to play as he did in 2021 with little effort, passion or production, he’ll have a hard time making an NFL roster. He wasn’t even a lock to be named the Steelers starter this year, battling with Spillane during training camp.

Bush came off a devasting 2020 ACL injury with a disastrous season. It’s not uncommon for players who suffered ACL injuries to struggle their first time back (see: Bud Dupree, Saquon Barkley). As his return season went on, that bounce-back never happened.

In 14 games, Bush logged four defended passes, a forced fumble and recovery, 2.0 sacks and 70 total tackles. He missed three games; one, a healthy scratch for the team’s Sept. 19, 2021 loss versus the Las Vegas Raiders, and two due to being on the COVID-19 list.

Steelers Swing and Miss

In the 2019 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers moved up 10 spots to select Bush, trading their first and second-round picks and a 2020 third-round pick to the Denver Broncos. Higher expectations come for a player of that pedigree, and nearly two years later, he hasn’t lived up to it.

Is it Bush’s fault the Steelers gave up too much for him? No. But it is his fault that he’s underperformed expectations.

Though it’s not saying a lot, Bush has looked better through two games this year, posting four solo tackles and five assists.

But don’t let Mike Tomlin tell you Bush is making progress. “I wouldn’t call it a big step,” Tomlin said when asked about his Week 1 performance. “I imagine you guys would because that was the narrative you guys were singing, but he did what we expected him to do, which is play winning, varsity football.”