A year after vowing to become an every-down back, Miami Dolphins RB Reggie Bush wants to top himself by leading the NFL in rushing.
"I believe in setting the highest goals possible," Bush said Thursday. "If you're not setting the highest standards for yourself, then you don't belong in this game."
Bush first announced his goal this spring during a South Florida television appearance. When the Dolphins acquired him as a free agent last August, he wanted to prove that he could transition from a third-down back to a feature back.
He walked the walk in 2011, rushing for 1,086 yards (previous career high: 581) with a 5.0 yards-per-carry average (the best among the 15 NFL running backs who topped 1,000 yards last season).
"I watched him while he was with the New Orleans Saints, and I always felt if he got an opportunity to try to carry the load he would do well," said Dolphins running backs coach Jeff Nixon. "So when we (acquired) him I was very excited, and I told him one of my goals for him was to be a 1,000-yard rusher, be a Pro Bowl-type player and be a top-10 running back in the league.
"I think he proved that last year, and I'm looking for bigger things from him this year. I have complete confidence in Reggie. I always knew he was going to be a good player for us."
Nixon called Bush "one of the hardest workers I've been around," praising Bush's toughness. He carried the ball a career-high 216 times in 2011, which is not an overly-taxing load (Bush's previous career high had been 157).
If he wants to lead the NFL in rushing, Bush will need at least 250 carries in 2012. The top 5 rushers in the NFL had at least 273 carries last season. There is only one problem: Miami's offense has become more reliant on the short passing game under new coach Joe Philbin.
Bush doesn't seem concerned. "We'll see when this train begins, but I think it is possible [to win a rushing title with Miami]."
Regardless, Bush will get plenty of touches both as a runner and receiver, which he likes. "It's a spread, open, fast-paced, up-tempo offense," he said.
"We run a lot of zone schemes, which for a running back like me is great. I've always loved the zone running scheme. It does wonders for running backs."