MIKE O'HARA

O'Hara: Reggie Bush looks forward to a clean slate

Posted Apr 10, 2014

Fresh start. That's the message Reggie Bush and his teammates got this week from new Lions head coach Jim Caldwell to start the official offseason workout program.

Fresh start.

That's the message Reggie Bush and his teammates got this week from new Lions head coach Jim Caldwell to start the official offseason workout program.

There is a long grind ahead, and the Lions are doing conditioning drills only, not running any plays in a two-week phase that starts the offseason program. But the Lions are starting over after last year's disappointing finish to build toward winning a championship.

Reggie BushRB Reggie Bush (Photo: Gavin Smith)

"It's a clean slate," Bush told reporters Thursday morning. "No matter what happened last year, it has no bearing on this season. That's one of the things we talked about. Every season is a clean slate, no matter if you won the Super Bowl or you were last in the pack.

"We're excited at the opportunity to start over and begin something new and just kind of embark on this journey toward a championship."

Some changes are in order, and not just in terms of leadership. A fullback has been added to the offense under new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, and the signing of free-agent receiver Golden Tate adds a young threat to a passing game that already was potent.

The big change, of course, is at the top of the leadership chain. Caldwell was hired in January to replace Jim Schwartz, who was fired after five seasons and a 7-9 record in 2013 with a 29-52 mark overall for five seasons.

One of Caldwell's strengths is his ability to communicate, and that made an impression on Bush when Caldwell spoke to the team as a group for the first time.

"I really like him -- like him a lot," Bush said. "The first meeting we had, I was really impressed with some of the things he said and talked about. Just really impressed – well-spoken guy and smart.

"You could tell he knows what he's talking about. He just talked about – like I said --  a clean slate, starting over, starting fresh and just building. Building that championship mentality.

"It starts right now. It starts in the offseason. Veteran leadership is going to be important. We're going to have to keep guys healthy and just make sure everybody's here."

Ndamukong Suh is one veteran leader who has not attended the workouts this week, but Bush didn't seem to think that is a big issue. Bush referenced the possibility that Suh's absence could be tied to negotiations on a contract extension. Suh is going into the last year of the five-year contract he signed as a rookie in 2010.

"From what I know, it's a contract thing. So that's the business side of stuff, and we all go through it, so everybody understands. Nobody's looking down on him. I'm sure as soon as he can be here, he'll be here."

However, Bush said he was not certain if Suh's absence is related to his contract.

"I don’t know, honestly," he said. "I haven't spoken to him."

Bush has previous experience with Lombardi, who replaces Scott Linehan, who was fired after five seasons with the Lions.

Lombardi was an offensive assistant with the Saints the last seven seasons. Bush spent his first five seasons in New Orleans (2006-10) and got to know Lombardi primarily in his role as quarterbacks coach.

Adding a fullback is not an entirely foreign concept for Bush. The Lions wanted to use a fullback last year but never really got the chance because of injuries that limited Montell Owens to a brief appearance in one game.

Bush wants the ball, regardless of formation, personnel packages or who blocks in front of him. He had his second 1,000-yard rushing season last year, and his second highest rushing total with 1,006 yards.

"I enjoy running the ball period," Bush said. "I don't have a favorite. I enjoy running with a fullback and enjoy running without a fullback. It's just a guy in front of you.

"The reads are a little different because you kind of have to wait for the fullbacks to make their move and make their block. There's a little more patience involved when you have a fullback in front of you, opposed to when you're just back there by yourself and you can read the defense and you're just waiting on the offensive line."

Bush expects the addition of Tate to add more firepower to an offense that already was loaded with talent.

"I look forward to what he's going to bring to this offense  – just another explosive player for our offense," Bush said. "It was already explosive, but adding him just makes it that much more exciting."