LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions plan to put Reggie Bush in the backfield to take toss sweeps around the outside and to hit holes between the tackles.
They also want him to line up at times as a wide receiver and to send him in motion, hoping to keep defenses guessing about how Matthew Stafford might get him the ball.
Bush can’t wait.
“I definitely want to show I can be an every-down back,” he said before the Lions closed their three-day minicamp Thursday. “I wanted to prove to myself and to people that I could do it all and I wasn’t a utility back.”
The Lions certainly aren’t paying Bush big bucks just to be on the field for a down once in a while.
Detroit signed Bush to a $16 million, four-year contract in March, counting on him becoming the big-play running back it hasn’t had since concussions took Jahvid Best off the field.
“I could’ve signed back with Miami, Arizona,” Bush said. “Seattle was kind of after me early on and Atlanta was a possibility, too.”
He has run for 4,162 yards and 29 touchdowns and caught 372 passes for 2,730 yards and 15 scores in two seasons with the Dolphins and five with New Orleans, which drafted him No. 2 overall out of Southern California in 2006.
Bush said his role will look like the one he had with the Saints, and not much like his job description in Miami. It will also be similar to what Best did for Detroit until early in the fourth quarter on Oct. 16, 2011, when he lost a yard on a run and was tackled by San Francisco’s NaVorro Bowman.
In Best’s first five games that season, he combined to average more than 100 yards rushing and receiving per game during the team’s 5-0 start. Since then, the Lions have lost 19 of 28 games.
“I definitely see the opportunity to be able to make an impact on this offense right away,” Bush said. “What they were able to do with Jahvid Best, they were able to do something special. But it’s not just about me. Hopefully, we can all be effective on this offense because it’s going to take more than one running back.”
As good as receiver Calvin Johnson has been the past two years with 218 receptions for 3,645 yards and 21 touchdowns, he hasn’t been able to overcome being the focal point of a one-dimensional offense. Johnson is confident Bush can change that.
“He’s going to force another defender to come down when he starts getting free and making plays,” Johnson said.
Stafford said Bush should help the Lions have much of what they’ve missed without Best.
“He’s similar and he’s definitely a guy who adds to the talent pool in our running back group,” Stafford said. “He has a different skill set that is a great compliment to the other backs we have and our offense in general.”
It will be offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s job next month in training camp and beyond to come up with ways to make the most of Johnson and Best.
“Reggie’s definitely going to add a dynamic to our offense,” Linehan said. “He gives us a running back that has produced in this league and really, in the last two years, done a really good job of just carrying the ball. He’s done it.
“Prior to his last stop, he was doing a lot of the things you’ll see him do in our offense and be a dual-threat guy. He gives us a dynamic that we got with Jahvid. It’s a little different, everybody’s different, but he definitely gives us a guy that can be an effective rusher and effective receiver.”
NOTES: The Lions ended training camp by huddling around Balaal Hollings, an 18-year-old Detroit resident who survived getting shot in the head two months ago. Lions WR Nate Burleson said a small part of his message to the team was to avoid situations where they could get hurt, or worse, as he did attending a party. “He joked about saying, ‘I got shot in the head and I didn’t even step on anybody’s shoe,” Burleson recalled. “The message was deeper than that. He talked about not listening to the critics, people that talk football and don’t know football. He said, ‘Man told me I wasn’t going to breathe again. Man told me I wasn’t going to walk again.’ And I’m here in front of you right now. That was the most powerful thing he said.”
Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)