Though his stats don’t suggest a running back who’s worth the $8 million base salary he’ll earn this year, running back Reggie Bush has a big impact on the Saints offense because of the attention he receives when he doesn’t get the ball.
And Bush can do a lot of things with the ball, as quarterback Drew Brees explained it earlier today.
“Because of his versatility, you’re able to do so much with him,” Brees said in comments circulated by the team. “He can sit in the backfield and carry the ball. In a heavy personnel package or nickel you can motion out of the backfield. You can protect. You can split him out to the single receiver side. Certainly as a punt returner, you look at all the things that he can do. The job that he does might have to be broken into two or three different guys picking up the slack where he kind of left off. That’s why he’s so valuable.”
But even without Bush on the field, the Saints are still dangerous. Falcons coach Mike Smith, who’ll face the Saints on Sunday, recently said that Bush being out doesn’t make things any easier for a defense because of the number of other players to whom the ball can be distributed. Brees agrees.
“It’s pretty accurate,” Brees said. “Think about it, it’s exactly that. When Reggie’s not in the lineup, who’s getting those balls? You can’t sit here and say it’s just another running back or it’s just going to be spread amongst the running backs. Instead of him hoping to get five yards, maybe it’s throwing to the tight end to get five yards. Maybe it’s taking another shot play and knowing we have that guy to check it down to. Those touches could be spread among anybody on offense, tight ends, other backs. Receivers. I think that’s a pretty good assessment.’”
Coach Sean Payton confirmed that Bush will miss four-to-six weeks with a broken fibula. And the treatment is decidedly old school.
‘You’re on crutches,” Payton said. “He’s basically keeping the weight off of it. He’ll do that; he’ll get his treatment. Basically it’s just trying to keep the weight off of that leg.”
Payton said that the Saints looked at both Ladell Betts and Aaron Stecker before settling on Betts as a replacement; DeShawn Wynn was cut.
If Bush misses only five weeks, he’ll be back for the October 31 game against the Steelers, which will be played in prime time, on a network with which you may be familiar, up against the World Series.