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Bush says trade to Dolphins is 'surreal'

Reggie Bush watched part of his first practice with the Miami Dolphins from an end zone, arms across his chest, nodding and smiling as he studied what was happening on the field.

He can't wait for a different view.

Bush's next chapter formally began Friday, one day after he was acquired by the Dolphins in a trade with the New Orleans Saints and agreed to a two-year contract worth nearly $10 million. He cannot practice with the club until Aug. 4 because of NFL rules, but is in camp and already knee-deep into the process of learning everything about his new team.

"It's still pretty surreal for me," Bush said after practice. "This whole experience is great. I'm looking forward to this opportunity. I think this is an amazing city to play in and I'm just looking forward to being able to come in here and contribute right away and be a difference-maker and help this team win."

Bush said he and the Dolphins are still figuring out how he'll be used, but noted that he'll be a running back first — clearly his top priority. In five years with the Saints, Bush only carried the ball 524 times, actually gaining more yards as a receiver than a runner. In Miami, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams were the go-to backs last season, though both are free agents now and that would certainly suggest that Bush will be asked to lead the ground game now.

"It's an opportunity I've wanted and envisioned as long as I've played football," Bush said. "I've always wanted to be a featured back and the main guy and I feel like there's an opportunity here for that. And there's also an opportunity for me to be a leader and a contributor and help some of the young guys come along too. I've been in the league five years and I can't believe it, but I'm kind of one of the older vet guys now."

Bush is a dynamic kick returner and receiver out of the backfield when he is healthy. And although plagued by a series of injuries in his career, he gained 4,982 all-purpose yards for the Saints and scored 33 touchdowns.

"They already have some great weapons here with Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano," Bush said. "I feel like we're one or two pieces away from maybe being a premier offense and a premier team and competing year-in and year-out as a real contender."

Bush was still introducing himself to some of his new teammates Friday. He's already met Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who addressed the Saints before they played in the Super Bowl.

The Dolphins got Bush by sending safety Jonathon Amaya and an undisclosed draft pick to the Saints.

"I'm excited about him," Miami left tackle Jake Long said. "He's a dynamic player. He can do so many different things, catch it, run it, return. Man, I'm really excited to have him on our team."

Bush was due about $11.8 million this season, the final year of his contract with the Saints, who face salary-cap constraints.

He helped the Saints win the Super Bowl in February 2010 — on the Dolphins' home field. But he has never been to a Pro Bowl or even rushed for as much as 600 yards in a season, though the sort of speed he has is something Miami desperately coveted.

"We all talked about having an exciting brand of football," Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said. "We're addressing one of our biggest needs that everybody criticized us for, which was speed. I think we're certainly showing that's a thing the Miami Dolphins will have plenty of."

Bush has gained perhaps even more notoriety for off-the-field stories than what he's done in the NFL.

He was part of the 2004 team at Southern California that easily beat Oklahoma 55-19 to win the Orange Bowl and the Bowl Championship Series title — also on the Dolphins' home field, just like Bush's Super Bowl victory — that was later wiped out of the record books. The BCS stripped the Trojans of that title because of rules infractions involving Bush getting extra benefits. Bush won the Heisman Trophy the following season, but The Heisman Trust no longer recognizes him as the winner of its award and he relinquished his title to it last year.

Even his private life has been in the public eye more than once, largely because of his past relationship with reality TV star Kim Kardashian.

On Friday, Bush said he welcomed a chance for a new beginning.

"We all deal with off-the-field stuff," Bush said. "But I look at football, the football field, as kind of my sanctuary, my home away from home, where I get a chance to escape all the off-the-field stuff and just focus on football, focus on what I love to do and my passion. That's playing football. I'm not too much worried about any of the distractions off off-the-field stuff or anything else that comes along with playing in Miami."

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