Reggie Bush has watched film of the Detroit Lions, and he has seen opposing safeties playing deep and double-teaming Calvin Johnson.
“It’s a running back’s dream,” Bush said. “We have to be able to run the ball in that situation. One of the reasons I wanted to come here is to be able to bring a balanced attack.”
Bush was introduced Wednesday as Detroit’s most high-profile free agent signing so far this off-season, with the Lions hoping he can give a boost to an offence that already includes Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Bush certainly adds more speed to Detroit’s backfield, which already includes 233-pound running back Mikel Leshoure. Bush rushed for 986 yards for Miami last season after a 1,086-yard output for the Dolphins in 2011.
The Lions, who did not disclose terms of Bush’s contract, also agreed to deals with free agent defensive end Jason Jones and cornerback Chris Houston. Jones played last season in Seattle, and Houston has been with the Lions the last three seasons.
Detroit went 4-12 in 2012 despite Johnson’s record-setting season at wide receiver. The running game was never all that consistent — the Lions had only four runs of 20 or more yards, which tied them for the fewest in the league.
“The thing that was important to us was not just the talent of Reggie Bush, but also the way those talents complemented the other players we have on offence,” coach Jim Schwartz said. “That was really the basis of our interest in Reggie.”
Detroit lacked a big-play running back because Jahvid Best, a first-round draft pick in 2010, didn’t play at all last season. His future is in doubt because of concussion problems.
Bush was a change-of-pace and third-down back in his five years with New Orleans before being traded to Miami following the 2011 lockout. Detroit is still building around Stafford and Johnson, and Bush is looking forward to fitting in.
“Having a quarterback like Matthew makes all the difference,” Bush said. “This offence doesn’t work without him.”
The Lions have other needs besides running back, of course. Jones, who is from the Detroit area, played 12 games with the Seattle Seahawks last season. He was not a starter, but the 6-foot-5, 276-pound Jones could play a bigger role with the Lions, who may lose defensive end Cliff Avril to free agency. Detroit also released veteran defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch last month.
“No words to describe how excited I am to come back,” said Jones, who is from Southfield.
Houston started 42 games for the Lions over the last three seasons. Prior to that, he played his first three years with the Atlanta Falcons. Detroit may upgrade its secondary via free agency, but Houston has been solid for the Lions. He had five interceptions in 2011, when Detroit made the playoffs.
Houston missed two games last season because of a sprained left ankle, but that was in September. He started every game the rest of the way, finishing with two interceptions and two forced fumbles.