by Josh Alper
The New Orleans Saints placed Reggie Bushon injured reserve today, officially ending his third NFL season. It's the second straight year that Bush failed to make it to the last week of the season. It's also the second straight year that Bush took steps backward after a strong rookie season.
Bush, who missed several games after arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this season, wraps up the year with 404 yards rushing and 440 yards receiving. He scored six touchdowns on offense and added three more on punt returns. There's nothing wrong with nine touchdowns in 10 games, but Bush's inability to stay on the field has made him something less than the Saints expected with the second overall pick in the 2006 Draft. Leon Washington of the Jets, a fourth-rounder that year, has turned in similar production as Bush this season (in more games) but costs his team much less money.
Making matters worse is the fact that the relationship between Bush and coach Sean Paytonseems to be deteriorating. Bush expressed unhappiness about being yanked from last week's loss to the Bears, two weeks after Payton made a similar move against the Bucs. Whatever his shortcomings, Bush could still play an important role in the supercharged Saints offense. Unless he loses Payton's faith once and for all, of course.