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As Bush Comes to Shove: Reggie Primed To Silence Critics in 2009

Randy SavoieAnalyst IIAugust 22, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 14:  Running back Reggie Bush #25 of the New Orleans Saints looks on during action against the Cincinnati Bengals in a preseason game on August 14, 2009 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Wikipedia describes the burning bush as an object from the Book of Exodus located on Mount Horeb. The bush was on fire but was not consumed by the flames, hence the name.

In 2006, Reggie Bush was on fire when he entered the NFL as arguably the best college running back ever. And he fell in the Saints lap when those foolish Texans selected a defensive end named Mario Williams.

In his rookie year, he introduced himself to New Orleans in dramatic fashion with over 1,500 total yards as the Saints made a deep playoff run that ended with a loss in the NFC Championship game to the Chicago Bears.

Saints partisans assumed it was a sign of things to come.

However, the next two years were not nearly as productive. Bush battled injuries and life without his running mate/mentor Deuce McAllister- and Bush quickly found himself in the line of enemy fire.

The media sharks wasted little time questioning his legitimacy as the overall second pick in the 2006 draft. They said he is a complimentary back and always will be. They said he lacked toughness and durability and a lack of focus that they attributed to Kim Kardashian, I think.

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However, if 2009 training camp is any indication, Reggie Bush is determined that he'll never be consumed by the flames.

Saints RB Pierre Thomas says Bush is hitting the hole with the kind of explosion never before season in his four-year NFL career. He says Bush has looked outstanding from day one this preseason.

Last Saturday night, those Bourbon Street preachers were shouting from the rooftops that," steel is strengthened in the fire! In the fire!" And when is the last time one of those guys was ever wrong about anything? Although, on occasion, a few of them eventually succumb to the temptations the street has to offer.

If those preachers are right, Bush should be pretty damned strong at this point.

In 2007, Bush lost his mentor and partner-in-crime McAllister to a torn ACL against the Titans and never appeared comfortable as the Saints featured back, averaging only 3.6 yards per carry and missing the final four games with a torn knee ligament.

One year later, he got off to a fast start with a combined 163 rushing/receiving yards and a dynamic 42 yard catch-and-run for a touchdown against Tampa Bay. He followed that with a two-touchdown effort against Denver and a spectacular game against Minnesota, returning two punts for touchdowns and tying an NFL record for punt returns for TDs in a game.

The injury bug struck again as he hurt his left knee in an Oct. 19 game against division rival Carolina and Bush missed six games one season ago.He felt the wrath of critics and fans on talk radio and barbs of the network guys.

Publicly, Bush said all the right things.

He took personal responsibility for his lack of productivity. He said he wasted precious time trying to be a finesse back. He said he needs to be more explosive. Hit the hole faster. He said he learned his lesson. He said to hell with all that flash-n-dash stuff.

I'll be one of those damned north-south runners! No more tip-toeing and jitterbugging and stutter-stepping for me! I admit I have a problem! Like AA! From now on, I'll run the way every other back in the league runs! I'll be happy with the three-yard gain!

Privately, Bush tells friends all that media criticism cuts deep, burns and just downright pisses him off...says he wants to shut up all those media bastards once and for all. Says he's planning a dramatic comeback.

They just don't understand me! I'm not conventional! Asking me to run north/south...Oh my God, man, that's like asking Michael Vick to be a drop-back conventional pocket passer!

What the hell are they thinkin'!

Way? No way! No ******way!

Ain't my game man! Ain't my game and never will be!

Don't buy all that stuff about Reggie's juking and jivin' days are over. That he is forsaking his unconventional ways this year and going straight. Ain't gonna happen. It wouldn't be Reggie. He'll make his dramatic comeback this year and he'll do it his way.

The Three Musketeers said as much on local talk radio this morning.

They said Reggie is a wingback who excels when you throw the him the ball in space or hand it to him and let him explode outside.

And they see that when healthy he is very, very effective. Damned effective. A lethal weapon.

No free agent linebacker, cornerback, safety...whoever the hell they are, is bringing me down in the open-field jack! Try it! Try it! See what Happens.

Speed kills, baby!

The Musketeers say he is a terrific receiver and occasionally a terrific running back and his dazzling speed holds every defensive player accountable every time he's on the field.

Oh yeah, speed kills, baby!

They say he is a solid and completely different type of player who will never be a between the tackles runner but, nevertheless, can be  very efficient in this Saints offense.

They say he's a tiny dancer who will always be jukin' and jivin' and giving up yards to gain yards like a drunk stumblin' out of Pat O'Briens on a Saturday night out onto Bourbon Street.

Always kickin' it outside. Cutting back. Lookin' for the outside.

Kickin'. Cuttin'. Lookin'.

And they say it with all the seriousness of your neighborhood mortician, and I for one believe them and nod my head in vigorous agreement as I drive the car down I-10 with the same kinda speed Bush displays on the football field.

"If I'm healthy 100 percent throughout the season, then I should be able to do what I expect myself to do. All I can do is control what I can control. I can't control what people say (damned media smartasses). I can control what I do on the field. I understand where the criticism comes from. I hear it, and I just use it as motivation."

Have no doubt, when bush comes to shove, Reggie will make his dramatic comeback and he will do it,as the late Howard Cosell would say, in his own inimitable way.

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