DAVIE, Fla. -- Another sweltering Miami Dolphins practice had ended, and the big field was deserted aside from tackling dummies, stray helmets and Reggie Bush running sprints.
The Dolphins newcomer was the last one off the field Friday. He sought to set a good example and make up for lost time after missing the first six practices of training camp because of NFL post-lockout rules.
"When I chose to come here, I said I was going to be one of the hardest workers, if not the hardest, on this team," Bush said. "I'm going to stand by that and do my part and be a leader."
The offense will look different with him at running back, and his new teammates are learning it will sound different, too.
"I never knew Reggie, but he's very vocal," new backup quarterback Matt Moore said. "He shows great leadership. He's a big-time talker and motivator, and that's good to see."
Bush and Moore were among the veterans held out of practice until Thursday because they had signed new contracts. Also joining workouts belatedly were linebackers Jason Taylor and Kevin Burnett.
"It's good to get the whole squad out there," Taylor said, "and have a chance to run around and see Reggie do his thing and get to see some of the guys and play with them a little bit."
Further tainting Bush's image was an NCAA investigation that determined he and his family accepted improper benefits from would-be sports agents while he played for USC. The Heisman Trust no longer recognizes Bush as the winner of its award, and the Bowl Championship Series vacated the Trojans' 2004 national title.
While he embraces the fresh start in Miami, Bush said he doesn't need to change perceptions about him. But he then nodded toward the practice field and added: "This is my sanctuary. This is where I get a chance to escape from all the things outside of the football field."
He won't be able to hide, though, because defenses are certain to focus on Bush. He'll share time at running back with second-round draft choice Daniel Thomas, and even in non-tackling drills, it was evident the Dolphins will be creative in getting the ball to Bush to take advantage of his speed and elusiveness.
"He's gold," Moore said. "He creates tons of mismatches, and even when defenses are spying on him, a guy like Reggie is so talented, you get the ball in his hands and he can turn a bad play into a huge play. He's going to be huge for this team."
That's what the Dolphins hope. They finished next to last in the AFC in points last year, when they went 7-9.
"One of the reasons I came here was because of the opportunity to bring versatility to this offense out of the backfield," Bush said. "The Dolphins may be one or two pieces away from being a constant contender, and that's why I came here. I felt like I could be that piece. We have the guys to be a top offense and be a contender."
Two practices into his Dolphins career, Bush may already be their most acclaimed player. When he finally stopped running Friday and started toward the locker room, patient fans hollered at him from behind a fence, and he peeled off to head their way. They wanted autographs; soon enough they'll be clamoring for touchdowns.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press