- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2006

In some games this season, Reggie Bush has produced like a rookie.

The New Orleans Saints’ multi-purpose back’s lows include six carries for five yards at Green Bay, 11 carries for minus-5 yards at Tampa Bay and four receptions for five yards against Baltimore.

But just as New Orleans has re-established itself as the NFC South front runner with three consecutive wins following a 1-3 stretch, Bush is proving why he won the Heisman Trophy last year at Southern California and why several teams had him ranked as the No. 1 player in last year’s draft.

In the last two games — wins over San Francisco and Dallas — Bush has 15 catches for 256 yards, including receptions of 74 and 61 yards. He scored five touchdowns in the two games.

“I feel more comfortable,” said Bush, whose team plays host to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. “I feel like I’m finding my identity on the team — things are coming together. … When we talk about me being comfortable, it goes back to running between the tackles and allowing my reads to develop.”

Bush has 125 carries for 405 yards and four touchdowns as Saints coach Sean Payton tries to divvy up the rushes between Bush and Deuce McAllister. Bush’s 79 catches lead New Orleans and he has returned 23 punts for an 8.5-yard average.

“The trick in the beginning was to kind of come to that balance with him and Deuce,” Payton said. “That’s sometimes challenging, to make sure that you’re getting each of them enough touches.

“He’s handled some of the different spots pretty well. It’s something that each week is a challenge for me and I try to stay on top of it.”

Bush has had at least 14 touches (combined rushes and receptions) in all but four games. But even though the Saints have several weapons, he has the Redskins’ attention.

“He’s unique,” safety Troy Vincent said. “He reminds me a lot of Barry Sanders, Brian Westbrook, Marshall Faulk. Their coach has done an excellent job moving him around and getting him the football in various ways. The [79] receptions mean he’s an intricate part of their offenses. They get him the ball with screens and run it on tosses. He’s doing a little bit of everything.

“He makes the first guy miss and we’ve seen that the last couple weeks. It has to be 11 guys around the football, taking their shots, for us to [contain him].”

Saunders remembers Hunt

Redskins associate head coach-offense Al Saunders worked for Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt for 15 years (1989-98, 2001-05). He described Hunt, who died Wednesday night at the age of 74 from complications with prostate cancer, as “a dear friend.”

Saunders last talked with Hunt three weeks ago and hopes to attend Hunt’s funeral next week.

“There are so many adjectives to describe Lamar Hunt,” Saunders said. “It was an incredible privilege and honor to know him as an employer but as a dear friend. I’ve never met a man more genuine and more honest and more forthright.

“You don’t come across somebody like Lamar Hunt in your life very often.”

Procedure problems

Among the more exasperating parts of last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles for Gibbs was the six offensive penalties for illegal procedures.

The Redskins’ offense has 15 procedure penalties — false start and illegal formation, substitution and motion — in six road games and 11 in seven home games.

“Some of them are hard to explain,” Gibbs said. “There’s no reason, playing at home, to have procedure penalties and it’s something that scares you to death on the road and in a place like [New Orleans]. We’ll have to be really right-on because of the crowd noise that will be out of sight.”

Injury report

Receiver Santana Moss was sent home before practice started yesterday because of the flu. Right tackle Jon Jansen (calf) and center Casey Rabach (hand) sat out for a second straight day. Jansen revealed he tore the calf muscle before the Dallas game Nov. 5.

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