Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knows how gifted a runner Reggie Bush is from their time together at USC.
So he understands that even though Bush is struggling a little bit now, the elusive runner could break out at any time.
But Carroll doesn’t want it to be today when Seattle takes on the Miami Dolphins three time zones away from CenturyLink Field.
Bush, 27, rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the first time in his NFL career in 2011, finishing with 1,086 yards on 216 carries – an average of 5 yards per carry. And he was on a similar pace this season, but the Dolphins have stopped giving him the ball consistently.
In his seventh season, Bush leads Miami with 575 yards and four touchdowns, but he’s averaging a meager 10 carries a game in the past five games as Miami coach Joe Philbin has leaned on more of a running-back-by-committee approach, with second-year player Daniel Thomas and rookie Lamar Miller sharing the load.
“Last year and early on in this season, he was off to a great start,” Carroll said. “He is still averaging 4 yards-plus per carry, but he hasn’t been as productive lately. We certainly see on film that he is a dynamic football player; he could score from anywhere, and they know it, so they’re getting the football in his hands because they understand that.”
While he would like to contribute more, Bush said he’s more concerned about helping his team stop a three-game losing streak.
“I feel fine,” Bush said. “I’m ready whenever they call my number. And I’m not so much focused on the amount of carries I get a game but just on making plays when I get the opportunity, really. Whether that’s 15 carries, 20 carries, five carries, whatever it is, just making sure I’m ready, I’m available and making the most out of my opportunities when they come.”
For his part, Philbin said he’s like to see more production from the running game overall.
“We’ve got to do a better job,” Philbin said. “Our blocking has to be better. That’s just not the offensive line, but tight ends, fullbacks, receivers. It’s kind of an all-encompassing issue right now. It’s not just one individual. But he’s (Bush) done some really good things. He’s made some key plays for us, and we obviously hope we can get him on track again.”
Bush already has played against Carroll while he was with New Orleans two years ago in the NFC wild-card game. Bush finished with five catches for 37 yards in Seattle’s 41-36 win.
“I’m looking forward to getting the win,” said Bush, when asked if he was looking forward to playing against Carroll. “That’s what I’m looking forward to. I’m not so much worried about who’s on the other side of the field.
“This game is really going to come down to our ability to execute and just finding a way to win this game, getting better as a team, running the ball better, passing the ball better; just executing in all phases of the game.”
SEATTLE (6-4) AT MIAMI (4-6)
10 a.m., Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
TV: Ch. 13. Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: The Dolphins hold a 7-3 edge, and also has a 2-1 advantage in the postseason. The two teams have met five times since 2000, and the Dolphins have won four. In the previous meeting, the Dolphins won in Miami, 21-19, on Nov. 8, 2008.
What to watch: Offensive lineman James Carpenter returned to practice for the first time in a month this week after missing Seattle’s past two games because of a concussion. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said whether Carpenter or John Moffitt will start at left guard will be a game-time decision. However, outside linebacker K.J. Wright is scheduled to return to action after missing the New York Jets game two weeks ago due to a concussion. ... Carroll is looking for more success coming off the bye week. The Seahawks are 6-17 in the game following the bye week. Carroll is 1-1 during his time in Seattle – the Seahawks won at Chicago, 23-20, on Oct. 17, 2010. The Seahawks lost at Cleveland last year on Oct. 23, 6-3. ... The Dolphins have one of the better rushing defenses in the league, giving up 96.8 yards per game (No. 9 overall). Miami has allowed one 100-yard rusher this season, Tennessee’s Chris Johnson (126 yards).
The pick: Seahawks, 24-10.
He has rushed for 100 yards four straight games, and Carroll says he wants to give him the ball more.
50 K.J. WrightLB6-14246Second
Wright returns, and will have to be a sure tackler in space against elusive runner Reggie Bush.
76 Russell OkungT6-5310Third
The Oklahoma State product will have to slow down talented Miami pass rusher Cameron Wake.
91 Chris ClemonsDE6-3254Ninth
Clemons should have a good matchup against Miami left tackle Jake Long, and he hasn’t recorded a sack in five games.
17 Ryan TannehillQB6-4222First
The Seahawks will try to bring consistent pressure in rookie Tannehill’s face to see how he’ll respond.
28 Nolan CarrollCB6-1205Third
The Maryland product was flagged five times for defensive holding or pass interference against Buffalo last week, and has to play with more confidence in the back end of Miami’s defense.
58 Karlos DansbyLB6-4250Fourth
The former Arizona Cardinal controls the middle for Miami’s defense, but he’s also playing with a torn biceps and a dislocated finger.
82 Brian HartlineWR5-2200Fourth
The former Ohio State player has to create some big plays on an offense lacking playmakers.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams firstname.lastname@example.org