By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – It might not be so easy for Reggie Bush this Sunday.
The new Detroit Lions running back got off to a hot start in the team’s season opener against the Minnesota Vikings last week, but now the Arizona Cardinals have had a week to prepare for the enhanced offensive capabilities of the Lions, and they will probably put some focus on Bush.
With Minnesota distracted by superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Bush enjoyed five-man and six-man boxes that he had not seen since he played for New Orleans. He took advantage and produced in both the running and passing games, and he showed off his wheels with a 77-yard burst down the field for a touchdown.
“I definitely expect them to focus on stopping the run a little more this week,” Bush said. “I’m sure we’ll see some safeties down in the box. Every defense is a little different. I think this one is pretty tough. This is going to be a good defense we’re going to face. Especially since they just lost their last game, they’re going to be looking for a win. They know what 0-2 means, so we’ve got to prepare ourselves for a dog fight.”
Of course, even if a defense manages to take Bush out of the equation, it still has to worry about Johnson, who had an off game in the opener that was a side note thanks to Bush, who collected 191 yards of total offense split almost 50-50 between the run and the pass. Then again, if Sunday showed anything, it seemed to be that the Lions can now compensate when Johnson is not at his best, that he does not have to carry the team every game for there to be a chance of a win.
“[Reggie] gives us other options,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “Certainly we’ve been pass heavy, really since we’ve been here. We looked a little bit more like what we did maybe a few years ago when Jahvid [Best] was out there as far as creating some explosive plays from different positions. It was a good start.”
How the Arizona defense will attempt to neutralize either Johnson, Bush or both is up in the air, particularly since the Cardinals have a new defensive coordinator in Todd Bowles, whom they hired in January.
“Everybody’s going to be different,” Linehan said. “We’ll certainly see some different things, but every defense has a different philosophy, so we’re playing a different Arizona defensive team when it comes to who’s calling the plays for them, too. There’s a lot of mystery as to what that’ll be. We’ll find out Sunday.”
Apart from Bush and Johnson, there are still plenty of options for quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has the benefit of an offensive line that withstood a significant test from five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen and the Vikings last week. The offense also includes weapons like Joique Bell, Joseph Fauria and Nate Burleson. Bell, like Bush, can run and catch, and he did well enough to be placed at the top of the “Who’s Hot” list in this week’s Sports Illustrated. Fauria is a big, tall target that Stafford has already utilized successfully in the end zone. Burleson is another veteran receiver for the Lions who rarely gets the spotlight but who made some big plays in the victory over the Vikings.
For Bush, though, last week was just a sample of what is to come.
“Honestly I think we’re just scratching the surface of what we can do with this offense,” Bush said. “It starts with Coach Linehan, and I think he does a great job every week at preparing us and really just putting our playmakers in space and giving us an opportunity to make plays. It starts with him and it just trickles on down, so I think we’re just scratching the surface. We’re just getting started.”