By Ashley Dunkak
The biggest question this week about Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush is one that even the running back himself cannot yet answer. After Bush sustained a knee injury Sunday, he left the game, came back in and fumbled, left for good, and the Detroit offense fell apart. Needless to say, his healthy presence against Washington would be huge Sunday.
So far, the outlook is uncertain but better than it might have been.
“I feel a lot better than I thought I was going to be feeling at this point in time,” Bush said. “My knee feels pretty good. It’s a day-to-day thing right now. Thankfully, I avoided anything serious that might have required surgery or being out for a long period of time, so right now it’s just day to day. It’s how I feel every day. It’s one day at a time right now.”
“I’m always optimistic to be able to play,” he added. “I hate missing games. It pains me to miss practice. I hate missing practice because I feel like the reps in practice are vital to your performance on Sunday. Like I said, I’m optimistic to play Sunday, but there’s so many different things that need to happen. I’ve got to get approval from the doctors, the coaches, the trainers, so I still have some work cut out for me. I’ve still got to prove and show that I’ll be able to go out there and play, so that’s really all I can tell you right now. If I could tell you more, I would tell you.”
Bush also talked about the role his knee injury played in his fumble Sunday. Bush said the coach asked him if he was good to go back in the game after the initial hit to his knee, and he responded affirmatively, but he has said since that it was a mistake on his part to return.
“My knee wasn’t in shape to be able to run and continue playing,” Bush said. “Coach asked if I was okay. I told him, ‘Yeah,’ because I felt like I was all right and I’d be able to still keep going. That’s just kind of the competitive side of me and I’m sure anybody else. It’s hard to tell a coach, ‘It’s better for you guys to not have me in the game right now because I’m not able to finish.’ I should have told him, shouldn’t have been in the game.”
He quickly discovered his choice to go back in the game was a bad one. On a run he said he could have broken for 15 or 20 yards, he instead fell when he made a cut. It was then he knew he should have stayed out of the game, but he remained for one more play, and that was when he fumbled.
The way the Lions fell apart after Bush’s departure, however, showed a more worrisome issue. He sidestepped the idea that his absence makes the Lions a stagnant team offensively.
“We played well in the first half. for whatever reason we didn’t get it done in the second half,” Bush said. “Guys are going to get injured, and guys have to step up.”
One way in which the Lions can improve regardless of whether Bush is in the game is by committing fewer penalties. They got called for 11 in their first game and eight Sunday. Bush said the key to getting rid of those mistakes is simply focus.
“It’s going to take extreme, maximum focus on every play,” Bush said. “The most important play is the play that you’re playing … We have to be able to focus as a team on doing the little things right. Most of the time when you commit penalties it’s because you’re not mentally focused or you’re tired.”
Against the Redskins this week, committing penalties could be the difference between this group becoming the first Lions team ever to win in Washington D.C., where Detroit has never won, and being just one more team to continue the losing streak there. That history, though, is secondary to the Lions’ biggest goal, Bush said.
“We don’t want to go 1-2,” Bush said. “We want to obviously come out of this game 2-1. so it’s an important game for us. It doesn’t matter about not having won in Washington. We just want to win this game … Obviously it would make it a little nicer, but for us, we need to focus getting this win.”
“When we’ve stayed out of our way,” Bush added, “we’ve showed that we can be a very good team.”
The last topic Bush talked about with Stoney and Bill on 97.1 The Ticket was his recent commercial, where he walks out of a pool talking on a phone. Bush said he was initially excited to get to hear about doing the ad but did not know the details until he arrived on set. When he found out what those were, he expected that his teammates would never let him hear the end of it. So far, though, he has escaped that.
“I don’t think any of them have seen it,” Bush said with a laugh. “Thank God.”