Spillane says Bush makes huge improvement to dominant defense

Despite few reps together, he expects new LB combo to do big things

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – There is a confidence around Steelers linebacker Robert Spillane this year. Last season putting up some good numbers in place of Devin Bush, now he looks forward to pairing with the first round pick as he returns from injury.

“He would make any team better,” Spillane said.  “Getting him back is such a huge improvement to our already dominant 2020 defense.”

Bush had 26 tackles through his first 4 and a half games before tearing his ACL against the Browns in October.  Bush said earlier this week he’s 80 to 90% and expects to be full go for training camp.

Spillane stepped in last year, starting 7 games before himself getting injured and out for the rest of the regular season.  Only to lead them in tackles in the playoff loss to Cleveland.

Spillane had a career game in his 3rd start at Baltimore with a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown, a couple of passes defended, a fumble recovery, a tackle for loss as one of 11 tackles on the game.

Now he tries to put those positive experiences into being a tandem with Bush, even though the 3rd year veteran can only do individual work right now.  He’s yet to be cleared for competition periods.

“Working through walk-throughs which helps our communication on the field,” Spillane said.  “One thing Devin and I have is communication off the field.  We’ve been talking about this since the end of last season.  We have an understanding with each other.  We understand each other’s skill sets.”

They might appear to be opposites, yet they are the Steelers two best pass coverage linebackers.  Spillane also said there isn’t much difference for him working in place of Bush than working alongside of him.

“I watched him a lot last year,” Bush said.  “I like his game a lot.  Always been a fan of him ever since I saw him play the position.  I expect Rob to take off from where he was last year and for us to feed off each other.”

“He can rush the passer, play the run downs and also cover people,” Spillane said in mutual admiration.  “He’s an all-around player.  A guy you love to have on your team.  He would make any team better.”

We probably won’t see much of it in the preseason, the pairing likely debuts on Opening Day in Buffalo.

“I know he’s gnawing at it to get out there,” Spillane said.  “He’s been working his tail off all offseason since the second he got injured to come back and be the best linebacker he will be.”

“We will figure out anything that goes on throughout the season.  As any two normal inside linebackers do.”

“We will figure it out.”