The Bush Dilemma

When the Miami Dolphins in late July acquired Reggie Bush in a trade from New Orleans, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said Bush was the kind of player his offense had been missing. Bush would add a lot of speed to the Dolphins, Sparano said. Versatility. He'd be used in a variety of ways.

Three games into the season, though, the Dolphins are still figuring out the best way to utilize Bush. Throughout the preseason, the Dolphins used him heavily in the passing game and also on outside runs. They used him between the tackles in the running game, too.

In the season opener against the Patriots, Bush was used in the same fashion -- he was targeted 10 times in the passing game and caught nine of those. He also gained 38 yards on 11 carries.

Since, though, Bush's role in the passing game has faded. And his production in the running game has decreased even from that modest start against the Patriots.

In the Dolphins' past two games — losses against the Texans and the Browns — Bush has been targeted just twice in the passing game. Equally troubling, he has gained just 31 yards on 16 rushing attempts — most of those between the tackles.

The Dolphins seem confused as to how to best utilize Bush, and Bush confused about his role in the offense.

Asked why he hasn't been seen as much lately in the passing game, Bush said, "Well, we do it a lot in practice. It just hasn't come up in the games.

"It's going to come," he said. "I know (offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is) going to make those calls — I'll be split out wide there. And I've done it a little bit, but not as much as, obviously, in my past. So like I said, we do it all the time in practice — we just haven't done it in the game yet."

Sparano, meanwhile, acknowledged the obvious Wednesday: The Dolphins need to do a better job of getting Bush the ball in space, where he can use his speed and athleticism to turn short passes into big gains.

In the season opener against the Patriots, Bush gained 56 yards on his nine receptions and also had a receiving touchdown. Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne said Bush hasn't been as involved in the passing game because Henne has placed an emphasis on throwing downfield more.

But Sparano indicated he wants to see more out of Bush in the passing game.

"We've got to get him in some space," Sparano said. "I think that that's important. And I think that trying to get Reggie touches early is important ... we can do a better job of trying to get Reggie in space and I think that that's important."


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