NOAH TRISTER, AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Reggie Bush realized right away how much easier his job might be this season, now that he’s on the same team as Calvin Johnson.
“I was lining up and seeing six-man boxes and even a few five-man boxes. That’s a dream for a running back,” Bush said after his Detroit debut Sunday. “I was seeing eight- and nine-man boxes in Miami, so this was a lot more fun. That’s what Calvin does. He’s so good that teams are doubling him and rolling coverage toward him, and those are guys I’m not worried about.”
Bush accounted for 191 yards in his first game with the Lions, leading them to a 34-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. It was about as impressive a start as Detroit’s new running back could have hoped for. The Vikings did a good job containing Johnson, the Lions’ star receiver, but Bush had all sorts of room to run and catch passes out of the backfield.
The only real concern afterward was his health.
“I did dislocate my thumb — it was pointing in the wrong direction, but they were able to pop it back in and tape it up. After that, I just carried the ball with my right hand,” Bush said. “On the series after that, I pulled a groin muscle, but I was able to keep going with that one. I guess that’s not too banged up.”
The Lions signed Bush in the offseason to do exactly what he did in the opener — provide balance for an offense that has been too reliant at times on Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford. Bush had 21 carries — seven more than his average last season with the Miami Dolphins — and four receptions. The highlight was a 77-yard catch-and-run for a third-quarter touchdown that gave the Lions a 27-17 lead.
Bush’s 227 carries last season were a career high, and his injuries in the opener raised some questions about the possibility of wear and tear this season.
“We’re going to try to go win games and score points. Reggie’s a tough guy,” coach Jim Schwartz said Monday. “You’re a running back in the NFL, there’s going to be some Mondays where you’re not going to be feeling great. Feel a little bit better when you get the win and when you make the plays that he made. That’s what we’re looking for from him.”
It wasn’t just Bush who looked sharp out of the backfield in the opener. Joique Bell had two short touchdown runs and also caught five passes for 67 yards.
“As you can tell by the beginning of the game, the linebackers were probably eight yards off the ball,” Bell said. “By the end of the game, you see they moved up into the box, closer to the box. So I think our run game was very efficient today.”
Bush became the third player in Lions history with at least 90 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in a game. The other two were Billy Sims and Barry Sanders. If Bush’s production this year is anything close to what those two provided, Detroit’s offense could be very difficult to stop.
“Later in the game they got out of their two-deep coverage and started pressing the line more, because they were having problems stopping the run,” Schwartz said. “That’s been something we’ve struggled to do against those guys for a long time — haven’t been able to get them out of their two-deep coverage, haven’t been able to make them pay for playing light in the box. Reggie was able to do that.”
NOTES: Schwartz gave credit to Detroit’s offensive line, which replaced both starting tackles from last season. Riley Reiff helped contain Minnesota pass-rushing star Jared Allen, and Corey Hilliard stepped in after tackle Jason Fox left Sunday’s game with a groin injury. … The Lions held Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson to 93 yards on 18 carries, even though one of his runs was a 78-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Detroit is the first team since 2000 to hold an RB to less than 100 yards in a game where he had at least 15 attempts and one run of at least 75 yards.
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