Bush More Than Just a Big Bruising Backup................
Bush more than big bruising backup
New Bears running back should be perfect complement to Forte
By Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune reporter 9:23 p.m. CDT, May 24, 2012
It's hard for Raiders running back Darren McFadden to forget the good times he shared with Michael Bush during training camp.
In fact, McFadden captured some of those memories of his former backup, but Bush wasn't aware of it at the time.
McFadden recalled one particular instance when the roommates returned from a long practice, plopped down and started to discuss nothing in particular.
"Within about two minutes, he was out of it,'' McFadden said. "I mean right in the middle of our conversation. I was like, 'Hey bro, you don't hear nothing?' And then I just recorded him, snoring and everything.''
McFadden would be the first to say people were wrong for sleeping on Bush. The two friends played together for four seasons before Bush signed a four-year, $14 million contract ($7 million guaranteed) with the Bears in March.
"Y'all are going to get a hard-nosed, strong runner in Michael Bush,'' McFadden said Thursday. "A lot of people think just because he's a big guy, he doesn't have good feet. He has some of the best feet I've seen for a guy his size. You guys are going to get a real nice back.''
The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Bush seems to be fitting in nicely. He has taken first-team reps at running back during organized team activities with Matt Forte still engaged in a contract dispute. Bush hasn't even met Forte and wasn't the least bit upset that Forte tweeted he felt "disrespected'' after Bush signed.
"When (Forte) gets here, I mean, to me my role doesn't change, as it was in Oakland,'' Bush said. "(Forte) is in, he gets tired, he goes out. I come back in or whatever. I just know that when it is my turn, I will be ready.''
Bush compiled 2,642 yards on 632 carries and scored 21 rushing touchdowns while with the Raiders. He started 19 games, including nine last season when a Lisfranc sprain sidelined McFadden.
Although he might have to carry a heavy load in the unlikely event that Forte's saga carries into the regular season, Bush understands why the Bears pursued him in free agency: Their struggles in short-yardage situation.
"Yes, that's what I was told,'' Bush said with sarcasm, referring to the short-yardage futility. "I get labeled as the big back; the tough yards. If you like head-banging and running, you can put me in that category.''
The previous two seasons with the Raiders, Bush scored 14 touchdowns — seven each season — and picked up 19 first downs in the red zone. Bears running backs had just 16 red-zone touchdowns combined over the same time span.
As a team, the Bears converted just 2 of 8 fourth downs last season and were 13 of 21 (62 percent) on third-and-1. In 2010, they were only 2 of 7 on fourth down and 11 of 23 (48 percent) on third-and-1.
Although now-retired Marion Barber provided a step up in production from Chester Taylor the previous year, the Bears still failed to get ideal production from Forte's backup the last two seasons.
In steps Bush.
"I'm not going to assure anybody anything,'' Bush said. "I'm just going to do what I know how to do, and that's play ball. Film doesn't lie. I'm going take care of what I'm supposed to do: Come here in shape, play ball, know my assignments and do what I need to do to fill that role behind Forte.
The Bears should sleep comfortably knowing they finally may have found a capable complementary back.
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