Bush eager to set example in Miami

Another sweltering Miami Dolphins practice had ended, and the

big field was deserted aside from tackling dummies, stray helmets

and Reggie Bush running sprints.

The Dolphins newcomer was the last one off the field Friday. He

sought to set a good example and make up for lost time after

missing the first six practices of training camp because of NFL

post-lockout rules.

”When I chose to come here, I said I was going to be one of the

hardest workers, if not the hardest, on this team,” Bush said.

”I’m going to stand by that and do my part and be a leader.”

Miami last week completed a trade with New Orleans for the

former Heisman Trophy winner by negotiating a new two-year contract

with him worth nearly $10 million. He gives the Dolphins the

big-play threat they’ve long lacked.

The offense will look different with him at running back, and

his new teammates are learning it will sound different, too.

”I never knew Reggie, but he’s very vocal,” new backup

quarterback Matt Moore said. ”He shows great leadership. He’s a

big-time talker and motivator, and that’s good to see.”

Bush and Moore were among the veterans held out of practice

until Thursday because they had signed new contracts. Also joining

workouts belatedly were linebackers Jason Taylor and Kevin

Burnett.

”It’s good to get the whole squad out there,” Taylor said,

”and have a chance to run around and see Reggie do his thing and

get to see some of the guys and play with them a little bit.”

Bush is the most celebrated veteran newcomer by virtue of his

success at Southern California and occasional bursts of brilliance

with New Orleans. He helped the Saints win the Super Bowl in 2010,

but he was plagued by injuries, never made the Pro Bowl and became

dispensable.

Further tainting Bush’s image was an NCAA investigation that

determined he and his family accepted improper benefits from

would-be sports agents while he played for USC. The Heisman Trust

no longer recognizes Bush as the winner of its award, and the Bowl

Championship Series vacated the Trojans’ 2004 national title.

While he embraces the fresh start in Miami, Bush said he doesn’t

need to change perceptions about him. But he then nodded toward the

practice field and added: ”This is my sanctuary. This is where I

get a chance to escape from all the things outside of the football

field.”

He won’t be able to hide, though, because defenses are certain

to focus on Bush. He’ll share time at running back with

second-round draft choice Daniel Thomas, and even in non-tackling

drills, it was evident the Dolphins will be creative in getting the

ball to Bush to take advantage of his speed and elusiveness.

”He’s gold,” Moore said. ”He creates tons of mismatches, and

even when defenses are spying on him, a guy like Reggie is so

talented, you get the ball in his hands and he can turn a bad play

into a huge play. He’s going to be huge for this team.”

That’s what the Dolphins hope. They finished next to last in the

AFC in points last year, when they went 7-9.

Bush figures he can make life easier for much-maligned

quarterback Chad Henne while distracting defenders from receivers

Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess.

”One of the reasons I came here was because of the opportunity

to bring versatility to this offense out of the backfield,” Bush

said. ”The Dolphins may be one or two pieces away from being a

constant contender, and that’s why I came here. I felt like I could

be that piece. We have the guys to be a top offense and be a

contender.”

Two practices into his Dolphins career, Bush may already be

their most acclaimed player. When he finally stopped running Friday

and started toward the locker room, patient fans hollered at him

from behind a fence, and he peeled off to head their way. They

wanted autographs; soon enough they’ll be clamoring for

touchdowns.