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blacksaint 10-21-2007 01:23 AM

Bush can burn Birds in so many ways
Saints back also efficient as a receiver

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 10/20/07

Flowery Branch — Falcons linebackers coach Brian VanGorder knows his unit must play a major part in keeping track of Saints hybrid back Reggie Bush when the teams play at 1 p.m. Sunday in New Orleans.

"He creates an outstanding problem because he's not only an outstanding running back, but an outstanding receiver," VanGorder said. "They use him in both of those phases."

Since Saints running back Deuce McAllister was lost for the season when he tore a knee ligament against Tennessee on Sept. 24, Bush has taken on more of the rushing load.

"He was in the backfield quite a bit at the running-back positions [vs. Seattle]," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "Obviously we are still going to do a lot of things with him because he's good in space. We want to give the defense a lot to worry about and move him all over the field."

In his first game as the featured running back, Bush ran 21 times for 67 yards and caught nine passes for 52 against Carolina on Oct. 7.

After a week off, Bush rushed 17 times for 97 yards and caught six passes for 44 yards in a victory over Seattle.

"There are certain things that now you might ask Reggie to do that you wouldn't have asked him to do more of," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "He's handled the adjustment well. I thought he ran well last week and played hard."

Bush is on pace to catch nearly 100 passes and has accounted for 24 first downs (15 rushing and nine receiving).

While Bush has taken on more of the traditional running-back duties, the Saints still like to use him at multiple positions.

"Wherever he's at, we have to go play football," VanGorder said. "He's going to have a lot of touches because he's a tremendous football player."

Bush, known for his cutback moves, quickness and speed, is running more between the tackles.

"We understand that he's not trying to take the big hit," Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy said. "He's going to try to get down when he can. Last week he did show that he had some toughness and tried to run through some tackles."

Bush has converted on all four of his third-and-1 carries.

"He may be even getting a few more touches now," VanGorder said.

The Falcons linebackers will help keep track of Bush, and the secondary will monitor Bush closely when he lines up at wide receiver.

"Sometimes you get a lot of empty [backfield], and they run a lot of screens with him," Milloy said. "They try to get him matched up with a linebacker as much as possible."

Bush was solid in the Saints' two victories over the Falcons last season. He rushed for 53 yards and caught four passes for 19 yards in a 23-3 win at New Orleans, and rushed for 24 yards and had three catches for 21 yards in a 31-13 Saints win in Atlanta.

"We've got a couple of things that are tailor-made for him," Milloy said.

Bush also puts some stress on the defensive line.

"If he sees one hole plugged, he's going to try to move around and find another hole," Falcons defensive end John Abraham said. "If you're there, then you have to make a good tackle."

Bush can burn Birds in so many ways |

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