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Getting to be 'himself' again

Being himself: It may seem like a normal statement coming from any player in the Steelers locker room, but when linebacker Devin Bush said it, you could tell from the expression on his face it meant a lot.

"I get a chance to play football again how I want to," said Bush.

Bush was speaking from the heart, after a 2021 season that had its ups and downs for him as he continued to battle back from a knee injury the year before.

"I get a chance to go out there and be myself," said Bush. "I feel like I am starting a whole new slate."

One of the obstacles in his battle back from the injury, aside from the physical challenges, was confidence. It was trusting his knee again after such a serious injury.

"Early on at times," said Bush of the confidence issue last season. "I wasn't happy with my play of course. I wasn't happy with losing. I went through some things personally. I feel like it was all a learning process.

"Before I got hurt, I think I was playing good. Things happen. I learned a lot along the way. I think it was supposed to happen to me. I am grateful for it. I am thankful I get to go out there and play again."

Bush being out on the field during OTAs this year, going full strength instead of spending time focused on rehab, has eliminated any issues with confidence that lingered last year.

"After the season I got the chance to go home, spent two months at home and I was able to go out on the field," said Bush. "I was telling the guys, last year at this time I wasn't on the field as much. They were managing my reps. Holding me back for precautionary things.

"After the season I was running miles on the beach, cutting, jumping, playing around. My knee wasn't an issue. I was able to get back to that and do normal things, get my confidence back in myself and my knee. That was a big part of my rehab after the season."

Bush, who is in the final year of his contract, doesn't know what the future will hold for him but there is one thing he does know.

"I just have to go out there and play football," said Bush. "My mentality is going out there and being a football player again."

A big addition: Just mention the name Brian Flores in the Steelers locker room, and the amount of respect the players have for the team's senior defensive assistant/linebackers is impossible to hide.

"He is a big addition to the Steelers," said linebacker Devin Bush. "Having him in the room is outstanding. He is a guy that is real football minded. He knows the game. You can ask him any type of question. I think he is a real good addition to our squad."

Flores joined the Steelers this offseason after spending the last two years as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Since the start of OTAs, the players have been getting hands on training and it's already paying dividends.

"He has added so much value," said linebacker Alex Highsmith. "I am just so thankful for Coach (Mike) Tomlin for bringing him in. He works with the inside and outside linebackers, so being able to go with him, he adds a lot of value. I've already learned so much from him. It's been a month and half … you can see why he was a head coach in this league. He is very knowledgeable, and I have learned a lot from him so far."