this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Team will rely on second-year back Wednesday, September 26, 2007 By Mike Triplett Early in his NFL career, Saints tailback Reggie Bush has been both electrifying and inconsistent. But up until now, he's never been this important. With backfield-mate Deuce ...
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Bush's role more important than ever
Team will rely on second-year back
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
By Mike Triplett
Early in his NFL career, Saints tailback Reggie Bush has been both electrifying and inconsistent.
But up until now, he's never been this important.
With backfield-mate Deuce McAllister out for the season, the Saints will lean on their second-year star more than ever before.
His role won't change drastically. He's not built to be a straight-ahead, pound-the-ball runner. But whether he's running out of the backfield, catching the ball in the flat or reversing field on an end-around, he will become the Saints' driving force on offense.
"With everything else Reggie is responsible for, this is going to add to the load on him a little bit more," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said.
Bush refused to speak with the media Monday as he passed in and out of the locker room. Although he didn't discuss it, he must have a lot swirling in his head right now.
First of all, he's never had to deal with losing before. The Saints' 0-3 start is foreign to the former Heisman trophy winner from Southern Cal, who contended for the national championship in each of his three college seasons.
Secondly, even before McAllister was injured, Bush was off to a slow start this season -- just like everyone else on the Saints' roster.
Through three games, Bush has 150 yards of total offense, with 29 carries for 80 yards and 16 receptions for 70 yards. Toward the end of last season, he was averaging about 150 yards per game.
He scored two touchdowns Monday night against Tennessee on 1-yard runs, but he also dropped an easy touchdown pass in the end zone.
"I think he's learning, and we're all learning that it's tough to win in this game each week," Saints Coach Sean Payton said when asked if he thinks Bush is "pressing" too much this season. "That margin for error has changed dramatically from when you were in college. I think he understands that. Obviously he's competitive, and he wants to win. I think that's a good thing."
Even before Bush was drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in 2006, there were questions about whether he could be an "every-down" back. He is about 6 feet, 200 pounds. However, the Saints didn't try to answer that question, using him as an all-purpose threat at running back, receiver and return specialist.
He did show the ability to run the ball consistently in Week 16 against the New York Giants, carrying the ball 20 times for 126 yards and a touchdown. That was his only 100-yard rushing game.
Payton said he doesn't plan to drastically alter Bush's repertoire. Veteran tailback Aaron Stecker also will take on more of the rushing load, and undrafted rookie Pierre Thomas also might play some occasional snaps on offense.
"I think his role will obviously change some without Deuce. That being said, I will still want to use him at times on punt returns and use him at times at receiver," Payton said.
Stecker has been through this before. He filled in two years ago when McAllister went down with his first knee injury in 2005. While sharing the load with fellow tailback Antowain Smith, Stecker ran for a career-high 363 yards and caught a career-high 35 passes for 281 yards.
The eight-year veteran is a little more physical than Bush, at 5-10, 213 pounds. But he also is good at catching the ball. He's spent most of his career as a third-down and change-of-pace back.
"We're just going to have to adjust. We're going to have to step up, whatever our roles will be," said Stecker, who said it "hurts" to watch McAllister go through this again for the second time in three years.
"Whatever the coaches ask me to do, I'm going to do to the best of my ability. I've been there before, and I've done some things. So I'm confident I can help the team out in any way they need me."
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