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saintswhodi 06-27-2006 11:45 AM

Tim Layden:What I am Looking forward to this season
Sunday storylines
What I'm looking forward to seeing on the NFL beat
Posted: Monday June 26, 2006 2:17PM; Updated: Tuesday June 27, 2006 11:13AM

Sometimes SI writers cover the same beat for many years. Sometimes they move around. I move around more than most. This fall I'm shifting to spend some time with the NFL. I've been there before -- both at SI and in previous jobs -- and having covered college football for many years, I feel like I know half the players in the league anyway. (Plus I read Peter King every week, which will keep anybody up to speed.) But as I bring new eyes to the nation's Sunday pastime, I'm curious about a few things:

1. The Bush-Brees show in New Orleans
Three years ago I sat in USC coach Pete Carroll's office after a Tuesday-afternoon practice. Carroll, then in his first year in Los Angeles, was scarfing down dinner and swilling Mountain Dew, watching tape of the day's practice. Hidden among the budding stars on the tape was a running back wearing jersey number five. "Reggie Bush," Carroll said. "Watch this."

There are few things in my business like seeing the genesis of greatness. In any sport. On this evening I watched Bush run half a dozen plays with USC's second and third offensive units. Twice he ran the wrong play altogether, a common freshman mistake. Twice he wasn't a factor in the play. Twice he made my jaw hit the table. Carroll chortled. Needless to say, Bush continued to make plays like that for three seasons at USC, with far more than two people watching and with much higher stakes than a Tuesday practice.

Can he make people miss in the NFL like he did at USC? Can he help right the Saints? Will he prove too small to survive 25 touches a week, or will he prove to be a mix of Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson?

Bush will get help from Drew Brees, whom the Chargers cut loose after he tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder in the last game of the 2005 season.

I wrote about Brees three times in his Purdue career, the last an intensive, four-month diary of his experience in trying to prove to the NFL that he was worthy of playing quarterback after a stellar college career that left many people calling him a "system" quarterback. I watched Brees get measured at 5-foot-11 7/8 at the Hula Bowl and demand to be measured again. I watched him tank at the NFL combine and demand to throw for scouts ASAP afterward.

The Chargers stole him with the first pick of the second round, sat him for a year, then made him fight Doug Flutie for the starting job a year later. Then they got Philip Rivers to put Brees back on the pine. Brees responded with two brilliant seasons.

Do you see a pattern here? Brees has been forced to prove himself since he was a freshman in high school in Austin. Some people wilt in situations like these. Brees gets better. And now he's got Bush to share the load.

AllSaints 06-27-2006 08:26 PM

RE: Tim Layden:What I am Looking forward to this season
Thats a good read...... wow i cant wait.....

TheDeuce 06-28-2006 08:38 AM

RE: Tim Layden:What I am Looking forward to this season
I'm excited, anybody else?

xan 06-28-2006 08:56 AM

RE: Tim Layden:What I am Looking forward to this season
I can't get truly excited until the preseason camp is a week old and we can tell what the real status of Deuce and Brees is. This jibbering about potential is now officially old. Show me the money moves.

TheDeuce 06-28-2006 02:32 PM

RE: Tim Layden:What I am Looking forward to this season

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