By Ashley Dunkak
@AshleyDunkak

ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush churned out 1,006 rushing yards and 506 receiving yards over 14 games in 2013. This season, injuries have limited Bush to eight games, and going into Week 15 he has only 217 rushing yards and 177 receiving yards to show for his efforts.

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Coaches often praise Bush’s speed and elusiveness, his ability to break big runs. They refer to him as a “home run threat.”

This season, Bush has not delivered. His longest run of the season came on Sept. 21, when he dashed for 26 yards. His longest reception of the season – 28 yards – came against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 5. Since then he has not recorded a single gain of 20-plus.

Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bush ran for 26 rushing yards on eight attempts and caught four passes for eight yards. In that game the Lions relied on the duo of Bush and Joique Bell to the complete exclusion of Theo Riddick, but Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Sunday was an anomaly in that regard.

“They’ve got similar skill sets,” Lombardi said. “Reggie, like I said, he had a great week of practice. When we put those plays in, it’s kind of like, ‘Hey, this is Reggie or Theo,’ and as the flow of the game went and Joique was getting a lot of carries because we were kind of running a lot of these two-back runs that are kind of Joique’s thing, there weren’t maybe as many of those, what we call ‘lightning back’ plays, and Reggie got them.”

The former first-round pick out of USC will turn 30 in March, and he has endured nearly nine NFL seasons.

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The drop in Bush’s production from last season to this season prompted a reporter to ask Lions head coach Jim Caldwell if there is concern about whether Bush will ever be fully healthy again.

“I kind of like when you asked that question because I think you may have asked about three weeks ago whether we were kind of seeing the demise of Calvin [Johnson],” Caldwell said with a smile. “So I kind of like that question because I think [Johnson] responded in a way in which was appropriate. I think you’re going to find that Reggie will do the same at some point as well.”

Bush said that he has noticed the rumblings about whether age and injuries have rendered him permanently ineffective.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t hear the doubters,” Bush said. “That’s part of football. I’ve been doubted my whole life. That’s part of it. I think what drives us as athletes is when people do doubt us, so for me, I have plenty of experience to rely on and to look back on. There’s still a lot of football left to play. By no means am I doubting myself.”

Bush said he is still the player, the home run threat, he has been throughout his career.

He added a qualifier: “As long as I’m healthy.”

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