Bush not lacking self-belief despite dearth of yards

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Lions running back Reggie Bush said he doesn't know if he has more doubters than other points in his career.

"I don't know," he said. "I don't even think about it."

But that doesn't mean Bush hasn't heard the criticism during a 2014 season in which he's missed five games with a right ankle sprain and has just 217 rushing yards, 177 receiving yards and one touchdown.

"Obviously I would be lying if I say I didn't hear the doubters, and that's part of football," Bush said. "I've been doubted my whole life."

The Lions coaches still have plenty of faith that Bush can be an explosive weapon in the offense this season. Although Joique Bell has taken over as the feature runner, Bush was the team's "lightning" back, playing 22 snaps after missing the previous three games.

Meanwhile, with Bush in the mix, second-year running back Theo Riddick didn't play any snaps on offense.

"I was even surprised after the game that he didn't play more," Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Thursday. "We're going to use (Riddick) in the future, so I think it was kind of a one-game anomaly."

Monday, coach Jim Caldwell explained that Bush's experience helped him earn the nod over Riddick, who is averaging 10.1 yards per reception compared to 5.9 for Bush. Lombardi explained Thursday that Bush's practice performance last week gave him the reps.

"Reggie was playing, he looked good all week, so we were kind of excited to get him going because he was fresh," Lombardi said.

Bush finished Sunday's game with eight carries for 26 yards and four receptions for 8 yards. Bell had 18 carries for 83 yards, five receptions for 50 yards and two total touchdowns. No matter who plays moving forward, the Lions know they need to run the ball better as their 84.1 yards per game ranks 29th in the NFL.

And Bush thinks he can still be the speedy, big-play back the Lions hoped for when they signed him to a four-year contract last year.

"As long as I'm not injured, yeah," he said.

When he has opportunities, Bush will have to silence those doubters.

"That's kind of what drives us as athletes is when people do doubt us," he said. "So, for me I have plenty of experience to rely on and look back on, and there's still a lot of football left to play. So, by no means am I doubting myself."

Caldwell is still confident in Bush. Asked if Bush will be fully healthy again this season, Caldwell reminded reporters that a few weeks ago there were questions about the decline of wide receiver Calvin Johnson. In five games since returning from a high-ankle sprain, Johnson has averaged 106.8 yards per game.

"I kind of like that question because I think he responded in a way in which was appropriate. I think that you're going to find that Reggie will do the same at some point as well."