LATROBE, Pa. -- Back in his day, Jerry Olsavsky was considered a smart but undersized inside linebacker during his 10-year NFL career.
That's why he's unfazed by the shift in the NFL to smaller, faster run-and-cover linebackers such as Steelers first-round draft pick Devin Bush. For the Steelers' inside linebackers coach, it's not about the size of the dog, it's about the size of the fight in the dog that matters.
"You either know you can hold up against bigger guys or you can’t," Olsavsky said Tuesday as the Steelers worked on Day 10 of their training camp here at Saint Vincent College. "If you know you can do it, it’s no problem. I don’t care if it’s 300, 280, you’re going to go hit the guy and play football. We’ve got to work on some technique and things like that, but the size really doesn’t come into it.
"It didn’t come into it for me. People would say, ‘You’re too small.’ How do you know how I feel on the field? Did I ever feel too small on the field? No. That’s the thing. Some people feel too small. You put a defensive back up there, they might say, ‘Woh, that’s a little different.’ Yeah, it is a little different. So if you feel too small, then yeah, you’re too small. But if you don’t feel too small, it’s better because they’re slower."
Lack of speed isn't an issue for Bush, who ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year. That's a time most defensive backs would be proud to own. But Bush is a 5-foot-11, 234-pound inside linebacker.
That's what interested the Steelers in moving up to acquire the hard-hitting former Michigan star.