Ray's Replies: Why didn't Reggie Bush reach his potential?


Ray's Replies: Why didn't Reggie Bush reach his potential?

Q. I’m going to call you on the carpet a little bit here so I hope you don’t mind. Before Reggie Bush was drafted, I remember hearing you on the radio touting his ability, which was quite obvious at the time. I think you used the words, “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player” and “He’s that special.”
If we fast forward to now -- given the fact we all have the gift of hindsight -- he didn’t turn out to be all that special. I guess my question stems from the point of view of a talent evaluator for a pro team (which I’m not). What was it that you saw in him that made you think he would be that good and what happened to him that it didn’t work out that way?
This guy was as sure as the sure thing can be, but yet he’s not an every-down back and is at this point an afterthought in most people’s minds. I remember how people thought Houston was crazy for taking Mario Williams (ahead of Bush) but he has averaged about nine sacks per year even with a shortened year last year due to injury.
Eric T.
A. That’s a very good question, Eric, and timely, too, because we are now entering the pre-draft season in which every potential draft pick is scrutinized, analyzed and labeled, often incorrectly or unfairly. Certain guys will be labeled “can’t-miss” and they may be total busts. It happens every year.
You are right in one respect, I really did like Reggie Bush when he came out of Southern Cal in 2006. I’m not sure I ever called him a “once-in-a-lifetime” player, though. I didn’t think of him in those terms. Special? Yes, I’m sure I said that. But “once in a lifetime?” I don’t think so. But that’s beside the point.
You ask what I saw in him. I saw a dynamic runner with great vision and instinct, a back who combined 4.35 speed with the ability to cut on a dime and make tacklers miss. What really stood out was his pass-catching. I felt he was a better pure pass-catcher than any of the receivers in that draft. He combined soft hands with the ability to run crisp routes. He was ideally suited for the new NFL, a game of matchups, mismatches and throwing the football.
And, yes, I was one of those who felt Houston made a mistake when they passed on Bush and selected Mario Williams, a defensive end, with the first overall pick. I thought Texans GM Charlie Casserly made the wrong call. You got me there. Williams turned out to be a very good pick. Charlie was right and I was wrong.
But you ask what happened to Bush. Mostly, it was injuries. In his first five seasons, all with New Orleans, he never started more than 10 games in a season. From 2007-10, he missed 20 games with various injuries.
He certainly wasn’t a bust. He put up good numbers -- his 294 pass receptions led all NFL running backs in that period -- but he wasn’t the Barry Sanders-type franchise back that most people, including NFL scouts, expected him to be. He just kept getting hurt.
That’s what is so hard to predict. If a player has a history of injury either in high school or college, that’s one thing. It is buyer beware. If you draft him, you know what you’re getting. But Bush was not hurt at Southern Cal and he handled the ball a ton, running it, catching it and returning kicks. Durability was considered one of his many assets. That has not been the case since he came to the NFL.    
That’s what makes drafting players so tough. I sympathize with Howie Roseman and the other GMs in the league because so much is riding on every draft and so many things can go wrong. We all do mock drafts. We all rate players. We have our sleepers and our busts. But only the GMs have to live with those choices and ultimately answer for them. It isn’t easy.
If I’ve learned one thing over the years, it is there are no sure things in the draft. I’m the guy who rated Cade McNown as the best quarterback in the Class of 1999. Enough said.

Dale Weise suspended 3 games for illegal check to head of Ducks' Korbinian Holzer

Dale Weise suspended 3 games for illegal check to head of Ducks' Korbinian Holzer

Another Flyers player has been suspended by the NHL Department of Player Safety.

This time, it's right winger Dale Weise, who on Friday was banned three games for an illegal check to the head of Ducks defenseman Korbinian Holzer during the Flyers' 3-2 home-opening loss Thursday night.

As Holzer was attempting to chip the puck out of his own zone in the second period, Weise lowered his right shoulder and made a high hit to the blueliner.

The NHL department of player safety explained that Weise made the head the main point of contact on a hit where such head contact was avoidable and unnecessary.

With Weise's suspension, rookie Roman Lyubimov, the Flyers' lone remaining healthy scratch, will enter the lineup.

The Flyers have been suspended an NHL-most 12 games. Forward Brayden Schenn served a three-game suspension to start the season for a hit in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while defenseman Radko Gudas is currrently serving a six-gamer for a check during the preseason.

Weise, who the Flyers signed in the offseason to a four-year, $9.4 million deal, has not registered a point in four games playing on the team's third line.

NFL Notes: LeSean McCoy questionable; Jordan Reed out

NFL Notes: LeSean McCoy questionable; Jordan Reed out

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is questionable and will be a game-time decision for Buffalo's upcoming game against the Miami Dolphins.

McCoy returned to practice on a limited basis Friday after sitting out Thursday. He revealed he suffered the injury in Buffalo's Wednesday practice session at the start of individual drills.

"We're confident in the guys that we have behind him but not ruling Shady out at all," Bills head coach Rex Ryan said. "He looked pretty good. So we'll be smart with him, but he looked pretty good."

McCoy has been the driving force behind the Bills offense this year and has gotten off to a hot start. The Bills (4-2) lead the league in rushing and McCoy is second in the NFL with 587 yards, behind only Dallas rookie Ezekiel Elliott.

McCoy said the injury is to his left hamstring, the same hamstring he injured last season. McCoy injured his hamstring last year during training camp and was hampered throughout the first half of the season, missing two games.

McCoy stressed that his current injury is not nearly as bad as his hamstring injury from a year ago.

"It's not as bad, really it's not as bad at all, so that's a good thing," McCoy said.

If McCoy is unable to play, he likely will be replaced by backup Mike Gillislee. Gillislee had a 44-yard touchdown late in Buffalo's Week 6 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Buffalo also has veteran Reggie Bush and rookie Jonathan Williams at running back.

The Dolphins (2-4) have the 31st-ranked run defense in the NFL.

Redskins: Doctson to IR; Reed out Sunday
ASHBURN, Va. — First-round draft pick Josh Doctson was put on injured reserve by the Washington Redskins on Friday with an injured left Achilles tendon.

Doctson has missed the past four games for Washington (4-2) after making just one catch in each of the team's first two games.

The wide receiver was the 22nd overall pick in this year's NFL draft but has been troubled by the Achilles tendon problem since rookie minicamp in May. Doctson did not play at all in the preseason.

"With all the work that we've put in, we thought it was best to immobilize him for a little bit of time and see if that can help," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Friday.

Gruden raised the possibility of bringing Doctson back from IR later on -- each team can do that with one player per season -- saying, "Hopefully we'll get him back for the last, maybe, two games of the year."

Said teammate DeSean Jackson: "Hopefully he'll get right and get the treatment he needs and be back out there for us as soon as possible."

Doctson had one catch for 9 yards in Week 1, and one catch for 57 yards in Week 2. The Redskins were hoping he could contribute this season and be ready to step into a bigger role next season if Jackson or Pierre Garcon leaves via free agency.

Gruden also said tight end Jordan Reed will miss Sunday's game at the Detroit Lions (3-3) with a concussion. Reed, who leads the team with 33 catches in 2016, also sat out last week's win over Philadelphia after hitting his head during a victory over Baltimore a week earlier.

He participated somewhat in practice Wednesday — wearing a yellow, noncontact jersey — before being held out entirely Thursday and Friday.

"I don't think he had a setback," Gruden said. "I just think they didn't really clear him. ... That's all I can say. I don't even try to argue or ask why. I just (ask) if he's cleared or not -- and the answer is `No.' So hopefully we'll get him back next week."