By Jeremiah Thermidor
A healthy Reggie Bush is an effective Reggie Bush, and an effective Reggie Bush gives the Miami Dolphins one of the most dynamic rushing threats in the entire league.
Bush wasn’t close to 100 percent when the Dolphins faced off against the Cardinals in Week Four, but he hopes to be back in the form he was when the season started, rushing for 241 yards and two touchdowns combined during the first two contests.
Bush suffered a knee injury during Miami’s Week 3 loss versus the Jets and there was a concern he wouldn’t play last Sunday. But Bush is not the type of guy to just sit on the sidelines when his team needs him. So, he did what he could to prove to Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin that he would be able to contribute in the game.
The problem was Bush was still in pain. He played hurt at Arizona, even though he could have simply sat out to completely rehabilitate. But he didn’t want give up on his team, and he managed to rush for 67 yards. “I tried to fight through it the best I could,” Bush said Wednesday, responding to a question about how his knee felt after the game against the Cardinals.
“I’m not going to make excuses. I’ve got to play better,” he said, illustrating how disappointed he was with his performance. But under the circumstances, Bush did a great job and shouldn’t knock himself too much. However, the Dolphins coaching staff probably won’t tell him that. They know when Bush is critical about his performances, he usually works ten times harder to bounce back, which is what he’s done this week to prepare for Sunday’s matchup against the Bengals.
Bush was limited in practice on Wednesday with a minor hip injury, which shouldn’t hinder him at all this weekend. He fully participated in the workouts on Thursday and was one of eight Miami players listed as probable for the game on Friday’s injury report.
The only Dolphins player listed as out for Sunday’s matchup is starting cornerback Richard Marshall who hasn’t missed a game this season. Marshall hurt his back in Miami’s Week Two victory against the Raiders, and he’s been dealing with the same injury for a couple of weeks. But it has never kept him out of a game until now.
The 27-year-old is a valuable part of Miami’s secondary. He’s a top cover corner with excellent ball skills. He has one interception on the season, in addition to his 18 tackles and five pass deflections. Most importantly he has the ability to disrupt big plays down the field.
Third-year defensive back Nolan Carroll is expected to get the start in the place of Marshall. Carroll has 15 combined tackles on the year. He’s been effective in the nickelback role but now has another opportunity to prove he has the potential to develop into a dependable cornerback.
He’ll likely be matching up against Cincinnati’s No. 2 receiver Armon Binns who has had an average year, catching 12 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
Miami defensive back R.J. Stanford will also see more action in the game as a result of Marshall’s absence. The 2nd-year veteran out of Utah has played as nickel and dime corner for most of his career. He is one of those players who could have a breakout performance, considering he’s a motivated young guy who has yet to scratch the surface of his potential.
“If he is called upon, we all have confidence in what he has done,” coach Philbin said regarding his trust level with Stanford. “He prepares well, he practices well. I think his understanding of the scheme and the defense has improved on a weekly basis, and he’s very competitive. So, those are all good signs.”
Dolphins defensive tackle Tony McDaniel will be playing in his first game of the season on Sunday. McDaniel, who is a reserve behind Randy Starks, has missed all four games this year with a knee injury.
As for the Bengals, they have two key players listed as doubtful for the game. Cornerbacks Jason Allen (Quad) and Dre Kirkpatrick (Knee) may not see action. Allen is the backup cornerback behind Leon Hall and Kirkpatrick is a third-string special team’s guy behind Nate Clements and Terrance Newman.
The loss of the two would certainly hurt a Cincinnati secondary which already allows an average of 264.5 receiving yards per game. Lacking depth in the secondary is probably one of the worst scenarios for the Bengals defense. If either or both of those guys are out, a versatile defensive back like Adam Jones could step up and certainly capitalize on the opportunity.
The Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) play host to the Miami Dolphins (1-3) on Sunday at 1 p.m. eastern. You can watch full coverage of the game right here on CBS 4.
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Jeremiah Thermidor is a freelance writer covering all things Miami Dolphins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.