ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Reggie Bush's workload hasn't been all that high this season, splitting time in the backfield with Joique Bell.
That means it's tough for Bush to settle into a rhythm — but it also means he could be fresher down the stretch for the Detroit Lions.
"You can make a case for both," Bush said. "Last year, me and Joique, we got beat up early in the season."
The Lions signed Bush as a free agent before last season, hoping he would help add a new dimension to their offense. The elusive running back ran for 1,006 yards, the second-highest total of his career. Add in his receiving totals, and he finished with a career-best 1,512 yards from scrimmage.
So far this season, Detroit's running game has been quiet — and that's something the Lions hope to change when they host Green Bay on Sunday.
"In this league you have to be able to run the ball consistently in order to be I think a solid football team, a real good football team," coach Jim Caldwell said. "So we'll continue to work on those things."
The 29-year-old Bush has already had an eventful pro career. Drafted by New Orleans out of Southern California in 2006 with the No. 2 overall pick, he helped the Saints win a Super Bowl before spending two seasons in Miami. After the Lions signed him, he made an impact right away, gaining 191 total yards in his first game in Detroit.
But he dealt with knee and calf injuries last year, missing two games and reaching 20 carries only once after Nov. 1. Bell gives the Lions another running back who can help take some of the pressure off Bush.
So far this year, Bush has only 41 yards on 15 carries. Bell has 87 yards on 25 carries.
"The performance in terms of yards can often times be a little vague, but you like to be over four yards a carry," Caldwell said. "That's where you'd like to be. That gives you a chance to be pretty productive week in and week out."
Bush would also like to reach the end zone, which he hasn't done yet this season. He's teaming up with the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens on an initiative to help Boys & Girls Clubs of America. For each touchdown Bush scores this season, $2,500 will be donated to a Boys & Girls Club, in Michigan or in whatever city the game is being played.
Despite the slow start this season, Bush has fit in well with the Lions, and he's had nothing but nice things to say about the city.
"I've really enjoyed my time here in Detroit," he said. "It's built on tough, working-class people."
The success-starved fans in Detroit have been treated to some offensive excitement in recent seasons — with Bush, quarterback Matthew Stafford and star receiver Calvin Johnson putting up impressive numbers. The next step is for the team to become a consistent winner.
"When we don't beat ourselves, we can score a lot of points," Bush said.
This season, Detroit rolled to a 35-14 win over the New York Giants in a Monday night opener — then turned the ball over three times in a loss to Carolina. Against the Panthers, the Lions seemed to become a bit too reliant on Johnson to carry the offense — a problem that Bush can help solve if he's productive.
"I think when he's gotten the opportunity he's found seams and holes," Caldwell said. "He's catching the ball well, we just have to find ways to get it to him a couple more times with a little more space."
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