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Robert Spillane is the next man up

(Photo by Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

News broke shortly after Sunday's game that Devin Bush would miss the remainder of the season due to an ACL tear that he suffered late in the second quarter against the Browns on Sunday. Mike Tomlin opened his weekly press conference with a brief summary on Bush's recovery and who will replace him at inside linebacker moving forward.

"Devin Bush is scheduled to have surgery to fix his damaged ACL on Wednesday," Tomlin said. "Our heart goes out to Devin. It's an unfortunate circumstance, but as we always say, injuries are as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling, and one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity.

"You saw Robert Spillane get an opportunity last Sunday and him make good use of it. We've got a great deal of confidence in Robert, and we'll continue to go largely with him in replacement of Devin. We will, through game-planning, look at all of our options in terms of dividing up the labor, but Robert will be the primary man responsible for replacing Devin, and we're excited about watching him play and play to the standards of our expectations."

Robert Spillane replaced Bush in Sunday's game and he filled in admirably, as he was tied for second in total tackles with six (five solos) and a 6-yard tackle for a loss when he sniffed out a screen to Browns' tight end Austin Hooper.

"I just want to start this off with Devin, because Devin is a great teammate and a great person," Spillane said in a Zoom interview with the media yesterday. "He's been one of the best teammates that I ever had. And if anyone knows Devin you know that he'll come back stronger than he's ever been before. I look forward to seeing him getting healthy on his road to recovery as we support him. The best way to support him is to leave where he left off."

Spillane will replace Bush for the majority of the snaps at inside linebacker, but Tomlin also said it will take more than just Spillane to replace Bush, as they can possibly use Marcus Allen, Ulysses Gilbert III, or even move strong safety Terrell Edmunds in the box in a dimebacker role.

"We have a lot of confidence in all of these guys as I mentioned earlier," Tomlin said. "We still have some heavy game-planning to do here, particularly defensively for the remainder of Tuesday. We'll hammer out some of those details, such as who's wearing the 'green dot,' what's the division of labor. I doubt that Robert Spillane will be playing all of the defensive snaps, and so it'll probably require a combination of people in an effort to replace Devin Bush. That's not unusual under the circumstances, but all that remains to be hashed out. Just rest assured, we're comfortable with the capabilities of all of the men and there will be no excuses in terms of the performance of those who occupy the role."

As far as who will get the green dot on the back of their helmet and signal the calls for the defense, a role that Bush held, is still to be determined.

"Let's be straightforward here," Tomlin said when asked about who will wear the green dot on the back of their helmet. "It's not like Devin has been doing it forever. We just handed the keys to Devin five games ago. He was not the 'green dot,' or the central communicator in 2019. So we're very thoughtful about that area. We were not in an area of comfort there, because Devin was growing and growing every week. Are we going through a transition? Certainly. But it's not as though we had a grizzly veteran in that position who had been handling that job for a number of years. That's something that has been on our radar, it's something we have been very conscious of in its development here in 2020. That's just going to continue."

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