New Orleans Saints  

 

Bush might get pushed out of talented, crowded backfield


As hard as it is for coaches and scouts to admit their mistakes, the Saints seemingly acknowledged their error in expecting Reggie Bush to become a featured back by trading back into the first round to draft Mark Ingram.

Although coach Sean Peyton has publicly said he wants Bush back, the addition of Ingram suggests otherwise.

The team now has four talented runners -- Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, Ingram, and Bush -- and it's hard to envision each playing a significant role.

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» Why Bush should be worried

While Thomas, Ivory and Ingram are perfectly suited to play as the lead back, the job doesn't necessarily play to Bush's strengths. He is ideally suited to handle perimeter runs and draws and be a dynamic receiver. As a featured back, however, Bush lacks the strength and power to run effectively between the tackles. He fails to consistently run through contact and doesn't show the requisite toughness to grind it out in critical moments.

Bush's presence forces defenses to adjust due to his explosiveness in the open field, but his production doesn't necessarily make his inclusion a must. Bush has never surpassed the 600-yard rushing mark, and his career-high of 88 receptions was compiled during a spectacular rookie campaign. In fact, his number of catches has steadily declined over his career, finishing with only 34 grabs in 2010.

Granted, injuries have limited his ability to make a consistent impact in any facet of his game, but his production falls well short of his compensation level ($16 million cap number in 2011). The prospect of a diminished offensive role might not appeal to the team or player in the future.

Bush was supposed to be the next big thing when he entered the league as the second overall pick in 2006, but after five years of unfulfilled expectations, he might be a high-priced role player on the verge of extinction in New Orleans.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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