First Call: Ex-Steeler pans Devin Bush; Pittsburgh prospects impress at NHL scouting combine

Monday’s “First Call” has a scathing critique of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Devin Bush. Former Pirate Cole Tucker signs with a new team. The Cleveland Browns retain a piece of their puzzle at a position of need for the Steelers.

And a local product impresses at the NHL scouting combine.

Hoge is harsh

Former Steelers running back Merril Hoge had a less-than-kind assessment of current linebacker Devin Bush.

Appearing on 93.7 The Fan on Friday, Hoge said of Bush, “There is nothing there.”

He went on to say that the Steelers could be blamed for not admitting that they made a bad first-round draft pick.

“This is where management makes mistakes when you don’t want to admit you made a mistake,” Hoge said. “You hold on. You think someone’s going to turn the corner and you hold on. ”

To be fair to the Steelers, they actually may have already come to that realization. After all, they didn’t offer Bush a fifth-year option.

Hoge wasn’t done though.

Bush didn’t make matters easier on himself when, during media interviews last week, he said, “I don’t think I’ve got nothing to prove, for real, because I’m a first-rounder, a top-10 pick and that’s never going to change. … I don’t think I’ve got to prove anything to anybody. I think more so I’ve just got to go out there and play football. ”

Well, Bush is right. It’s never going to change that he was a top-10 pick. But, contrary to what he said, he does have a lot to prove. Like, for instance, that he is anything but a total bust as a first-rounder.

Because for now, that’s exactly what it looks like he is.

Cole’s comeback

Former Pirate Cole Tucker has a new team. The former first-rounder was designated for assignment by the franchise on May 30.

But now he has signed on with the team the Pirates just finished playing. Tucker inked a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. They claimed him off of waivers Sunday during the game between the teams at PNC Park.

One that the Pirates eventually won 3-0 to take two of three over the weekend from the D-backs.

Tucker batted .211 with 18 doubles, six triples, five home runs and 35 RBIs in 154 games over four seasons with the Pirates.

The move will get Tucker close to home if he makes it up to the Major Leagues again. He was born in Phoenix and attended Mountain Pointe High School in Ahwatukee, Ariz. He lives in the Phoenix area during the offseason. He also committed to play for the University of Arizona before getting drafted by the Pirates in 2014.

Back with the Browns

D’Ernest Johnson may have been a nice backup running back with the Steelers for Najee Harris. He was a good one for the Cleveland Browns, chipping in nicely when the club was beset by injuries to Nick Chub and Kareem Hunt.

But Johnson was just a restricted free agent with a $ 2.43 million tender. And according to his agent (Drew Rosenhaus), Johnson has decided to stay in Cleveland with a new contract.

The 26-year-old will still make $ 2.43 million on a one-year contract, but according to, the new deal gives him $ 900,000 in guaranteed money and the Browns some salary-cap flexibility.

Johnson rushed for 534 yards and scored three touchdowns last season. He also caught 19 passes for 137 yards. He had his best game when Chubb and Hunt were out, rushing for a career-high 146 yards in a win over Denver.

What can Cooley do?

West Mifflin product Logan Cooley is one of the top prospects in the upcoming NHL draft. He’s No. 2 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters.

At this weekend’s scouting combine, says Cooley scored well on the stationary bike tests. He was second to Cutter Gauthier (No. 3 in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings) in peak power output on the Wingate at 17.8 watts per kilogram of body weight, and his time of 14:20 on the VO2 Max bike test, which measures stamina , was eighth.

He was also 10th in the vertical jump (19.43 inches) and sixth in the vertical jump from a squat position (16.67 inches).

Cooley said it’s important for him to advance Pittsburgh as a hockey city with his play at the next level.

“There haven’t been too many guys that have (come) out of Pittsburgh: JT Miller, Vincent Trocheck, John Gibson,” Cooley said at the combine in Buffalo. “So I’m just trying to make a bigger name for the city. Make it more of a hockey town. I think it’s done a really good job producing more and more players. I’m happy where the Pittsburgh area is at right now. ”

Cooley said improving his strength and explosiveness are the most important aspects of his game that he wants to develop.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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