MIAMI — Despite winning a Super Bowl ring in New Orleans, Reggie Bush came to Miami this summer with plenty to prove. He started slowly as the Dolphins dropped their first seven games, and a third consecutive losing season cost coach Tony Sparano his job.
Even so, by many measures this has become Bush’s best year.
In Sunday’s victory at Buffalo, Bush ran for a career-best 203 yards, which left him 27 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season. He also had a career-high 25 carries, further evidence to disprove skeptics who long questioned his toughness.
The Dolphins (5-9) face wholesale changes this off-season, but they’re set for 2012 at running back, where Bush has showed he can handle a full load that includes running between the tackles.
“It definitely means a lot,” he says. “It means that I’m doing everything that I expected I was going to be doing. This isn’t so much me being surprised this happened. It’s more the fact this is something I expected.”
After five seasons with the Saints, Bush embraced the trade to Miami because it meant a chance to be an every-down back for the first time. He never carried more than 157 times in New Orleans, and his workload declined each of the past three years.
Bush says he understood why many doubted whether he was built for more than a part-time role.
“I’m 205 pounds on a good day,” he says with a laugh. “I don’t think any of the questions bother me. It was more the lack of opportunity that bothered me. I know what I can do when given the right opportunity.
“I understand the questions. I was hurt a few years and I wasn’t getting a lot of touches and yards. Rightfully so, people should be questioning whether I can do it or not. But I know given the opportunity, I can show that I can be a good back.”
Doubts persisted early this season, when the Dolphins were losing every week. Bush netted only 119 yards in the first four games and had a modest average of 3.0 yards per carry.
But they kept giving him the ball, and he began finding room to run. In the past 10 games he has rushed for 854 yards while averaging 5.5 per attempt.