When the Detroit Lions came to University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 15 of last season, they got pounded 38-10 by the Arizona Cardinals.
While Jim Schwartz’s offense was one of the more dynamic units in all of the NFL in 2012 — third in the league in total offense — as Ray Horton and Co. exposed in the 28-point drubbing, they lacked one major component: a credible threat in the backfield.
This offseason, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew attempted to amend that weakness, as the team signed former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush to a four-year deal worth $16 million.
Long thought to be a situational runner more so than a three-down back, the Lions are hoping Bush, who has only rushed for 1,000 yards once in his seven-year career, can add another dimension to an offense that has primarily focused on Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson the past few seasons.
If their 34-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 was any indication of how Bush (91 rushing yards and 101 receiving yards and a touchdown) will fit in offensively, the 15 remaining teams on the Lions’ schedule better watch out.
The Cardinals, the next team on that schedule, will take a stab at taming the newest Lion Sunday, and head coach Bruce Arians admitted that he’s most impressed with how the 28-year-old has gotten more physical in the trenches as his career has progressed.
“I always thought Reggie, in the last four or five years, he pounded it up,” Arians said. “In Miami last year, he pounded it up inside. We played him last year [when I was in Indianapolis], and he still has the ability to pound it outside also, but he’ll stick it between the tackles.”
Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby had an up close and personal view of Bush in 2011 and 2012, as the two were teammates with the Miami Dolphins.
Wednesday, Dansby was not shy in his praise of the former All-Pro back.
“He’s a very dynamic player,” said Bush. “He always has been a dynamic player. They do a lot with him in their offense. They spread him out, they get him the ball in different situations. He runs the ball between the tackles real well right now.”
Whether or not it’s an indicator of how it will perform against Bush is anyone’s guess, but Arizona’s defense stopped the run rather well in St. Louis, allowing 64 total yards on the ground in a 27-24 loss.