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Reggie Bush in Buffalo a marriage of mutual desperation

By The Sports Xchange
Reggie Bush. (Buffalo Bills/Instagram)
Reggie Bush. (Buffalo Bills/Instagram)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Staring at the possibility of having to rely on unproven commodities such as rookie Jonathan Williams and young veterans Mike Gillislee, Boom Herron and James Wilder Jr. to back up LeSean McCoy the first four weeks of the season, the Bills felt they had no choice but to sign 31-year-old free agent running back Reggie Bush on Monday.

With Karlos Williams suspended for the first quarter of the 2016 season, the Bills moved to bring in Bush, a man without a team and apparently not much of a market for his services. He signed a one-year deal that could earn him approximately $3 million if he hits several incentives.

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"As I have previously commented, we are always looking to improve our roster," said Bills general manager Doug Whaley in a statement. "We had targeted Reggie because we feel a player of his caliber can help us in a variety of areas."

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One of those areas is backing up McCoy. McCoy is 28 and coming off a season that was disrupted by injuries, and with all the wear and tear on his body, it's no lock that he can get through a 16-game schedule unscathed. Bush, who has a similar style of play to McCoy, could probably step into Greg Roman's offense fairly seamlessly. But another place Bush can help is in the return game, which was a problem for the Bills in 2015. They ranked 30th in kickoff returns and 23rd in punt returns, and if Bush has anything left, he could be a much-needed upgrade.

"Hey, let's be honest, that's somewhere we want to be better at, we struggle a little bit," said coach Rex Ryan. "We don't have that true return specialist, if you will, so we're trying to improve. That certainly wasn't our strength last year. We fumbled three punts, we weren't very explosive in the return game, so, we're definitely trying to improve in that area."

Bush said he's ready to help.

"We've expressed the same things in that respect, so I'll definitely be back to returning punts and kicks if they need me to and whatever else it is that they need me to do," he said.

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Bush has been a man without a team since he was released by the 49ers. His only year in San Francisco was short-lived as he appeared in only five games before suffering a freak injury when he slipped on the surface behind the end zone at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis and suffered a season-ending knee injury.

"The recovery, it wasn't too bad, I've went through worse," said Bush. "I guess the good thing is I've been through enough injuries to where I knew what to expect and how to handle it and how to approach it on a day-to-day basis. So I felt like from a recovery standpoint and rehab process, everything went extremely smooth. I was back to full-strength months ago, a long time ago. Now, I'm in shape, in full-strength and ready to go so I should have no limitations on the football field."

Bush was a college superstar at Southern Cal who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by New Orleans. But the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner never came close to living up to that billing in five years with the Saints. Not once did he surpass 1,000 yards rushing as he was constantly bothered by injuries, missing 20 of a potential 80 games.

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He went to Miami in 2011 and enjoyed his best season as he rushed for 1,086 yards, then had 986 for the Dolphins in 2012. With Detroit in 2013 he gained 1,006 yards, but then fell way off in 2014, and after moving to San Francisco last year, he played only five games before suffering the knee injury.

In 10 NFL seasons, he has 5,493 yards rushing, 470 receptions for 3,508 yards, and 53 offensive touchdowns. He has returned just 100 punts for 781 yards, but does have four touchdowns.

"I'm here, I'm ready to go," Bush said. "I'm not sure how much I'll do at practice, but I'll definitely be out there learning, getting used to the verbiage from the play calling standpoint and just gaining experience about the new system. I guess the good thing is I've been around long enough to where I've pretty much been through every offensive system possible so I'm sure that there's nothing in this system that's going to surprise me or be too difficult."

NOTES: Defensive tackle Marcel Dareus has not practiced yet. He's on the non-football illness list, and while Ryan says whatever Dareus is dealing with is not serious, all Dareus has been seen doing is walking laps around the field. ... Running back Karlos Williams remains unable to practice due to poor conditioning. He continues to do drills with the training staff on the sideline, and there has been no timetable given on when he might finally practice. ... Linebacker Jerry Hughes has been seen dropping a little more into pass coverage, and Ryan said that Hughes will indeed do more of that this season. Last year, Ryan let Hughes and Mario Williams primarily rush upfield rather than drop, which is a departure for outside linebackers in his scheme. ... Kicker Marshall Morgan was released, meaning that for now, Dan Carpenter seems to have the placekicking job locked down. Kickoff specialist Jordan Gay is still on the roster, but he isn't challenging to be the placekicker.

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