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Opposing Player Spotlight: Week 8, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Miami Dolphins are taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers and a talented rookie linebacker in a Week 8 prime-time matchup.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins have fallen to 0-6 in a lost season, and fans are already eagerly waiting the 2020 Draft six months from now. For such Dolphins fans, this week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers provides a fascinating conflict of interest, as a Miami win would potentially lower Miami’s draft selection, but raise Pittsburgh’s, which the Dolphins happen to own as a result of the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade. If the Steelers win, the Dolphins would remain squarely in the race for the first-overall selection with the similarly inept and winless Cincinnati Bengals, yet the Steelers’ draft selection would slide down the board.

Regardless of draft selection implications (and, to be fair, the draft is still a long ways away), the players on the field will still be doing their utmost to win the contest (yes, I know you conspiracy theorists believe NFL players sometimes try to throw games, but I think that’s ridiculous). For the Steelers, one such player is ascending rookie linebacker Devin Bush, a defender whom the Steel Curtain traded up 10 draft slots for, and who is squarely in the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation.

Each week of the 2019 season, I am highlighting one player on the team squaring off with the Miami Dolphins that ‘phins fans should be watching out for. This week, that player is Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush.

Do you have a player recommendation for next week’s spotlight? Let me know on Twitter @HierJustin.

Fact Check: Devin Bush

Position: LB

Experience: Rookie

Age: 21

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 234 lbs

College: Michigan

Stat Review

Going into his rookie season with the Steelers, those in Pittsburgh knew that Bush would be an immediate contributor on a defense that badly needed help at the linebacker position. Bush has delivered on those expectations, playing in all six of Pittsburgh’s games and starting five.

Through those six games, the young playmaker has totaled 52 tackles, three passes defended, two interceptions, and one sack as the Steelers’ sideline-to-sideline maven. Bush has yet to leave a game with fewer than seven tackles, showing that he’s around the ball on almost every play. Since Week 3, Bush has been on the field for 89% or more of snaps for the Steelers defense.

Key Matchups

Bush has shown a keen ability to not only make splash plays in pass defense, but also to blow up plays against the run. He’s not the biggest guy on the field, meaning the Dolphins would be wise to attempt to neutralize him with a power run game, but Bush is one of the quickest linebackers in the NFL, meaning it’ll be difficult to beat him to the edge with outside runs.

Bush will also likely be tasked with covering Miami’s tight ends in the pass game. With Mike Gesicki holding a seven-inch height advantage over the rookie linebacker, Ryan Fitzpatrick should feel comfortable throwing up 50-50 balls to the towering tight end if he ends up one-on-one with Bush in coverage.