Bush looking past Heisman repo

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:34 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS -- Reggie Bush has had better days.

It's not every day that the news wire gets lit up by reports that the Heisman Trophy that you won in 2005 when playing for USC will be revoked due to receiving money and benefits while attending university.

The news should not come as any kind of shock given the rumblings the past few months that such a scenario was in the offing.

Bush, meanwhile, was unavailable for comment as the Saints were holding a no-media, closed practice Tuesday as they prepare for their opening game Thursday night against the Vikings.

And that includes Bush, who the day before was all smiles as he said he has never been healthier and that his confidence, which had taken a bit of a beating had also bounced back.

Bush saying he lacked confidence, though, is something that is definitely hard to compute.

Sort of like saying you can't find a rat hole on Bourbon Street to drown your sorrows.

I mean we're talking about a former USC star, the second player taken in the '06 draft, the cat who not so long ago was dumped by reality TV star Kim Kardashian.

Oops, never mind that.

But a potential Heisman Trophy repo aside, we're still talking about one of the offensive stars for the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. And here he was the other day in the locker room talking health and confidence and how he was looking forward to 2010.

"I'm just healthy so I'm able to continue to progress and try to get better as opposed of trying to work to getting healthy," Bush said. "Now I can just work on getting better and prepare for the regular season. So yeah, I'd say I'm running more physical and just trying to practice on becoming a better running back and better student of the game."

Since being drafted by the Saints, Bush has faced plenty of frustration. He's been frustrated and the fans have been frustrated because they expected so much more. Due to his lack of size -- six foot, 203 pounds -- Bush has been a multi-purpose back. He'll run out of the backfield but has never had more than 157 carries in a single season. Last year he had 70. He gets almost just as many touches on the receiving end and the Saints like to get him in man-to-man matchups, get him the ball and let him break a big one. He's also a scoring threat as a punt returner.

In 2007 and '08, he was dogged by a knee injury, one that held him to 14 games last season. But he believes that he got stronger as the season went on and chipped in with productive games in both the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl.

"It (injuries) takes away from your confidence level," Bush said. "Any time you chip away at an athlete's confidence level, you're taking away one of his best assets."

As far as head coach Sean Payton goes, Bush will remain a big part of the offensive package and says that so far, he's looked great.

"He's been healthy and has had a real good camp, probably one of the better camps that we've seen," Payton said.

"He's certainly got a grasp as to what we're doing and will be important, obviously, in our offensive game plan. He provides position flexibility as well."

As a multi-purpose threat, Bush is used to lining up all over the field in a variety of positions.

"I'd say so, other than quarterback and I've done that too," he said with a laugh. "I think it's kind of the new wave of athletes who are able to play multiple positions and be that multiple threat for a football team. Any time you have an athlete like that, it can be a nightmare for defensive co-ordinators and special teams.

"Coach Payton does a great job of putting me in situations where I'm mismatched against defences and linebackers and stuff."

All in all, when is the last time he has felt so good?

"Probably my rookie year," he replied with another laugh. "It's been a while. The last two or three years I've been battling injuries and that's tough. You never want to start off the season with an injury."

Being injury free also clears an athlete's head allowing him to accomplish more on the field.

"It does, it enables you to focus on the game more, enables you to focus on the little things, the details instead of worrying about: 'Hey, is my knee going to be 100 percent? If I take this hit this way, am I going to be all right?' So it helps."

Going into his fifth year, has Bush done the things he has wanted to do?

"There's still so much for me to accomplish," he said. "There's so many things I want to do and so much work to be done and room for improvement. So I'm nowhere near satisfied."


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