NFL: Bush not comfortable 'scumming touchdowns'
LAKE FOREST – Michael Bush was unfamiliar with the term “vulture” as applied to the NFL.
“No, I haven’t heard that one,” Bush said before practice Tuesday at Halas Hall.
Vulture (n): A player who swoops in at the end of a long series to score a short touchdown. To vulture (v): The act of swooping in at the end of a long series to score a short touchdown.
“Oh, yeah,” Bush said with a chuckle. “We call it ‘scumming touchdowns’ is what I call it.”
No matter the wording, Bush can expect to punctuate plenty of series this season.
Yet for such a bruising runner – one who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 245 pounds – Bush is highly sensitive to the delicate nature of his job description. The Bears signed him to a 4-year contract in March in large part because of his ability to plow across the goal line, but Bush knows that every touchdown he scores will be one that teammate Matt Forte does not.
Who knew vultures could be so thoughtful?
“Personally, I feel that if he gets it down there, he should be able to punch it in, just to reward him,” said Bush, who scored a pair of touchdowns as Forte’s backup Saturday against the Washington Redskins. “But I've always been like that. And if coach calls me, and that's what I need to do, I'm not going to say no.”
Bush’s strength at the goal line filled one of the Bears’ biggest weaknesses last season.
Forte averaged 123.9 yards from scrimmage per game in 2011, but he struggled to score from inside the 5-yard line. In 203 carries, he scored only three rushing touchdowns, which tied him with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for 40th in the NFL.
In came Bush, who tied for 15th in rushing touchdowns (7) despite beginning last season as the backup to Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden. That was nothing compared with Bush’s days at Louisville, where he scored 23 rushing touchdowns as a junior in 2005 and finished his college career within four rushing touchdowns of the school record.
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said Bush was a multi-dimensional threat.
“I don’t see him as a goal-line back,” Tice said. “I see him as a guy that’s going to make plays.
“He happens to be a bigger guy, so it makes sense to put him in those situations: short-yardage and goal-line. But there are other things that he does very, very well and we’re not going to shy away from calling anything for Michael.”
But with one football and two good running backs, someone always will be left out.
Bush acknowledged the trickiness of the timeshare between him and Forte. He said he and Forte had not spoken about the arrangement because there was nothing much to say.
“It isn’t going to be up to us, you know what I mean?” Bush said. “So, we’ve got to do what we’re coached to do and what we practice. I think we pretty much know how it’s going to be. We’re OK with it.”
Teammate Jason Campbell, who played alongside Bush on the Raiders last season, was not surprised to hear about Bush’s high regard for Forte. He said the same was true in Oakland, where Bush sometimes supplanted McFadden in goal-line situations.
“He’s just that type of person,” Campbell said. “He likes the other guy to get the respect that he deserves. If he sees someone take the ball all the way down the field, he’s the type of guy that’s like, ‘They’ve got to get the touchdown,’ even though we don’t think of it that way.
“We’re just thinking of trying to get the ball in the end zone, but he thinks of it as looking out for the other guy.”
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