The final horn sounds on a sweltering August day in Davie. Practice may be over for the Miami Dolphins, but it’s just begun for Reggie Bush.
Fans that aren’t quite ready to head home either can see him out there long after his teammates have bolted for refreshing air-conditioned climates.
He’ll hit the sleds, catch passes off the jugs machine, even run wind sprints. He’ll likely top the day off with an autograph session that’s been known to last up to 45 minutes, rewarding those fans that endured the heat and humidity with him.
The “scandalous” college football legend, who felt compelled to forfeit his 2005 Heisman trophy following heavy sanctions on USC and allegations that he received improper benefits, is seemingly doing all the right things in Miami.
Reggie Bush is motivated. That’s clear. Maybe all of this is derived from his name being drug threw the mud in the USC saga. I have a hard time criminalizing a kid, fresh out of high school for accepting free things being shoved in his face, but it’s easy to see why Reggie could be playing with a chip on his shoulder these days.
Or maybe it’s the way things ended in New Orleans that has Bush pushing himself so hard. He was a key piece on a Super Bowl winning team in 2009, after all.
It’s hard to blame the Saints for wanting to spare themselves the $11.8 million Bush was owed this year, but many avid Saints’ fans will tell you that the offense lacked something when Bush was hurt for a good portion of 2010.
Sure, he’s been a disappointment when considering the expectations he came into the league with and remembering how the NFL world was shocked when the Texans chose Mario Williams over the thought-to-be future Hall of Famer with the first overall pick.
Bush hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie year, hasn’t topped 600 yards on the ground in his career, and has seemingly never developed into a back you would trust with a starter’s workload.
It would be a story without a parallel if Bush somehow miraculously rose from underachiever to finally living up to his expectations he came into the league with in his sixth season. Nobody is expecting that, nor should they. Draft “experts” got a little carried away with Bush’s explosiveness. It’s hard to blame them when you look at a highlight reel of Bush’s days a USC.
But hard work pays off. Bush has reportedly been the first person on the field and the last to leave for a couple weeks now in Davie. If that’s indicative of how hard he’s been working all offseason and how hard he plans on pushing himself for the duration of his stint in Miami, you have to believe good things are in store for Reggie.
To what degree is anyone’s guess, especially when you consider the continuing struggles of the Dolphins’ interior offensive line. Mike Pouncey is promising but the guard spots look incapable at the moment. But it’s early. Maybe Sparano avoiding the temptation to play musical chairs with the unit this preseason will manifest itself in some chemistry forming.
Then again, running between the tackles isn’t Bush’s style. He surely has to improve there and become a more physical runner if wants to take the next step in his game and become an every-down option in this league.
But unlike rookie Daniel Thomas, whose success is almost fully dependent on Pouncey, Incognito, and Carey, Bush has the capability of opening up the perimeter ground attack. He can stretch the field with a toss play or bounce a run up the congested middle to the outside and into the second level of the defense in the blink of an eye.
All of that goes without saying how beneficial he could be to Chad Henne, a.k.a. Mr. Checkdown. In the past, Henne checking down to Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, or Lousaka Polite would have been stuffed by opposing defenses almost immediately. Bush, however, is capable of big things whenever he gets his hands on the football. Yes, even a simple checkdown in the flat can now be a dangerous feature in Brian Daboll’s new-look offense.
Reggie could catch passes off the jugs and run sprints until he can’t feel his legs if he’d like, but he’s likely never going to develop into Chris Johnson, who’s been the pinnacle of success for scatbacks in his first three years. Reggie is developing some great habits, though. The type of habits that many of the elite players in this league attribute their success to.