LIONS INSIDER

COORDINATOR CUT-UP: Reggie Bush can carry the load if need be

Posted Oct 2, 2014

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said he has all the confidence in RB Reggie Bush to carry the load Sunday if Joique Bell can't go.

One of the reasons Reggie Bush is still able to have the kind of production we’ve seen from him the last two seasons – his eighth and ninth in the NFL – is because he hasn’t experienced the wear and tear that other backs have.

Bush has carried the ball 1,229 times in his career. Compare that to a player like Maurice Jones-Drew, who was selected in the same draft in 2006 and has 1,815 career carries.

Reggie BushRB Reggie Bush (Photo: Gavin Smith)

It’s not that Bush can’t carry the load. He’s had more than 200 carries in each of the last three seasons (two with Miami) and has recorded both of his career 1,000-yard seasons in that time span (2013 and 2011).

The Lions would simply prefer he not have to carry the load for any extended period of time if they can help it. It’s one of the reasons they rewarded Joique Bell with a three-year, $9.3 million contract this offseason just one year into Bush’s four-year, $16 million deal.

The pair have become one of the best running back tandems in the league.

Bell has 48 carries through four games this year compared to 39 for Bush. Bell, however, is still going through the NFL’s concussion protocol and has yet to be cleared for Sunday’s game vs. Buffalo.

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said he has all the confidence Bush can carry the load if called upon to do so.

“If Joique can’t go, like every week, someone is going to have to step up and fill in the slack,” Lombardi said. “Probably means Reggie (Bush) has a bigger role and whoever our second back is, is going to have to pick up some slack as well.

"I think for certainly a short period of time Reggie can handle that.”

There’s no doubt Bush can carry the load on Sunday. The last time he carried the ball 20 times in a game he recorded 117 rushing yards and touchdown last year vs. Green Bay. His other 20-plus carry games last year were against Dallas (92 yards, TD), Cincinnati (50) and Minnesota (90).

The Lions just don’t want to have to make him a 20-carry back through the course of a whole season. It’s not conducive to them getting the best out of Bush down the road.

“Well I think he can,” Lombardi said. “Whether you would want to do it for 16 weeks in a row would be the question.

“I think if we’re thin at running back this week (it’s not a problem). I don’t think it’s going to be a season long thing, if it is at all even this week.”

Lombardi also touched on a couple other subjects:

On the problems the Buffalo Bills present defensively: “They got an excellent front four, both in the run and the pass they’re kind of leading both categories. Sometimes you see a front and they’re a little better pass rush and you feel like maybe you can get some running game advantage or vice versa but these guys are all around as good a front as you’re going to see. Good at the linebacker position and their corners cover very well. It’s a really good defense that does what they do very well.”

On diagnosing the issues that may have an effect on the QB getting hit: “Well I think they’re different. One sack last week was on a sprint out play, which as a play caller you kind of think well that’s a safe as a pass as there is. They kind of jumped the route and he (Stafford) ended up getting hit on that one.

I think there has been a few play calls that were a little ambitious given the situation. Sometimes there’s been a breakdown in protection. One last week was I think lack of preparation on my part. The pressure that we saw for the protection we had wasn’t covered so I’ll take that as the coach. Like I said last week the quarterback can have a better clock in his head and sometimes we just need to block longer so everyone’s responsible.”

On what he saw in RB George Winn in the preseason: “I think you saw a decisive back, a guy that kind of gets the ball makes his read and goes. He’s very efficient. You’re not going to see a lot of lost yardage plays from him which is comforting as an offense. He’s strong, he runs hard and I wouldn’t want to tackle him. We saw a lot of good things.”

On how TE Eric Ebron has reacted to a bigger role within the offense: “I think the more he gets the happier he is and he’s pretty happy to begin with. I think he’s excited.”