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Bush's Feet Closing In On Rare Feat

Posted Dec 26, 2012

Only Csonka and Williams have consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

Two weeks ago, Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush made it a point to shake the hand of Hall-of-Fame running back Larry Csonka when he and the rest of the 1972 Unbeaten Team were honored. Now he is about to join Csonka in the team record book.

Bush needs just 40 yards to reach 1,000 yards for the second straight season and it will be the first time a Dolphins running back has done that since Ricky Williams in 2002 and 2003. Csonka accomplished the feat in three consecutive seasons (1971-73).

“I think it’s good company to be in,” said Bush, who has rushed for 960 yards and six touchdowns on 219 carries. “Ricky Williams was a great running back and Larry Csonka was obviously a great running back, too. So it’s good company to be in and I think it’s even better company that Ricky Williams is from my neighborhood.”

Nobody ever doubted Bush’s versatility and effectiveness as an all-purpose back, which he has shown in each of his two seasons in Miami. Last year, his first with the Dolphins after coming over from the New Orleans Saints in a trade, he rushed for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns on 216 carries in 15 games, missing the finale against the New York Jets with a knee injury. He also caught 43 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown and even returned six punts for 52 yards.

So far this season, Bush has caught 33 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, both of those coming last week against the Buffalo Bills. He never had to be used on punt or kickoff returns and he has put up these numbers despite missing the entire second half of the first New York Jets game back on September 23rd. So should Bush get to 1,000 yards it also will reflect well on his offensive line.

“It’s a nice barometer that’s been used in football for a long, long time,” Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “It’s certainly an accomplishment that the whole unit should take pride in, there’s no doubt about it.”

Last year, Bush bought every one of his linemen a new Segway personal transporter and they all got to test them out in the parking lot in front of the team’s practice facility. He admitted if he reached the milestone again he would come up with something different.

All five of those linemen – rookie left tackle Jonathan Martin, left guard Richie Incognito, center Mike Pouncey, right guard John Jerry and right tackle Nate Garner – are eager to help Bush get the necessary yards. They’re also focused on trying to beat the Patriots on the road, but as much fun as they’ve had blocking for Bush, getting him into the record books would be a nice way for them to finish the regular season.

“It’s huge and it’s something that we’re definitely focused and want to do,” Incognito said. “We’ve been saying all along that for us to have success we need to run the football and we’ve got to get him to a thousand. I think that’ll be huge for us.”

Incognito and Pouncey are the only two pieces left from the line Bush ran behind last year with Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long now on Injured Reserve. Garner and Jerry had played sparingly, with Garner starting one game at left guard when Incognito was injured and Jerry starting two games at right guard and one at left tackle.

Martin opened the season at right tackle and moved over to the left when Long got injured early in the first game against New England at Sun Life Stadium on December 2nd. He did block for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford, so he knows a little something about blocking for a special player.

“As an offensive lineman you don’t accumulate many stats, not good ones at least, so anytime you can have one of your guys shine like that and make some history it’s definitely fun,” Martin said. “He’s a great player. He’s a playmaker and that’s what he’s been. That’s what he was in college and that’s what he is in the pros. He has great vision so he’s one of those guys that can make a run that looks like it’s going to be a 2-yard gain into a touchdown.”

Pouncey has been a fan of Bush’s for a long time, even before he became a first-round draft selection of the Dolphins in April of 2011. The fact that he can be a part of history this Sunday is something that is not lost on the Florida native.

“He makes it easy. I used to watch Reggie when he was at USC and I used to always tell myself I wish I played on a football team with that guy,” said Pouncey, who did block for a Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida in Tim Tebow. “That dream came true and I haven’t looked back since. He’s made my first two years in the NFL very special. I think Reggie’s a great football player and he’s been proven in this league for a long time. He had a lot of doubters when he came down to Miami and he’s everything for this football team.”

It’s not only Bush’s teammates and coaches that recognize what he’s capable of on the football field. Opposing head coaches and defensive coordinators stay up nights trying to figure out how to defend him.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has watched plenty of film of Bush and has faced him now as a division opponent three times. In the two meetings between Miami and New England last season, Bush rush for a combined 151 yards on 33 carries and caught 11 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. He racked up 113 yards on 22 carries in the second meeting last Christmas Eve in a 27-24 loss and in the first meeting this season, a 23-16 loss, he rushed for 64 yards on 15 carries.

“I think we knew that Reggie could do all those things and he’s certainly shown over the last couple years that he can be an every down back,” Belichick said during his conference call with the South Florida media. “He can carry the ball or catch it as much as you want to give it to him. Inside, outside, short passes, long passes, whatever you want – blitz pickup, he can do it all. He’s a tough guy to match up against.”

Belichick and the Patriots will be reminded just how tough this Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
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