Divorces rarely end amicably for all parties involved, and that certainly includes the NFL. Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles were both part of some great success with the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers respectively, yet neither of those clubs fought all that hard to bring them back for the 2011 season. Saints head coach Sean Payton did say repeatedly the Saints indeed wanted Bush back, but most people knew Bush would not return if his offered salary was cut significantly. And it was. Regardless, everyone seems to have moved on nicely.
While fans hoped Sproles could give Payton's offense a jittery jolt, perhaps no one could have envisioned the powerful force this diminutive back would be. Sproles has simply been electric nearly every time he touches the football, with his gaudy numbers telling the story. With just one regular season remaining, Sproles has rushed for a career-high 563 yards, while averaging an eye-opening 7 yards per carry. And while it would seem difficult to get a player listed at 5'6 very involved in the passing game, Sproles has dispelled that notion as well. The little guy has hauled in an enormous 81 catches, for another 681 yards and 6 touchdowns. The little guy has also paid big dividends on special teams as well, averaging 9.6 yards per punt return, with a 72-yard score against the Green Bay Packers. Sproles has a league-leading 2,528 all-purpose yards this year, needing just 163 yards to break the single-season NFL record of 2,690, set by the Tennessee Titans' Derrick Mason in 2000.
Reggie Bush meanwhile has bounced back from the worst season of his NFL career, to have his best during his first year with the Dolphins. Bush has rushed for a career-high 1,086 yards to this point, making it the first time he's ever cracked the 1,000 yard plateau in the pros. He's stayed healthy, playing in all 15 games and actually getting much stronger as the season has progressed. He's had four straight 100-yard rushing games (He had a measly one during his entire five years with the Saints) , including an astounding 25-carry, 203-yard effort during a win at Buffalo. Bush's 1,382 yards from scrimmage and 7 touchdowns however, isn't that far off from his rookie year with the Saints in 2006, when he accumulated 1,317 yards and 8 TDs. The one thing that has been missing for Bush is the victories. Miami began the year a putrid 0-7 and finds themselves 5-10 overall entering the regular season finale vs the New York Jets.
And as I type this, Bush has been ruled out for that game with Jets due to a knee injury.
Bush's former teammates had this to say about him, and his star replacement this week.
"I'm very happy. Very happy for everyone," said Saints QB Drew Brees. "There's those stages you go through in your life. Having Reggie here for those five years…it was great for him and it was great for us. And then it was time to move on. Time for something different. Reggie's moved on and you'd say it's the best for him. He's had a great year, and I think everyone around here has hoped for that. We wish him the best. Obviously in his place we got Darren Sproles. Darren's had one of the better years of his career. Certainly we know the contributions he's made on this team. All in all….I think everybody is for the better. I think we were better for being together will we were. We cherish those moments. Reggie was a part of this championship team in '09. So we're linked together forever. Now you move on to the next stage."
"Sproles was definitely a big pickup for us, but hats off to a good friend in Reggie Bush. Very happy for the success he's having. He said he wanted to be an every down back and he got that opportunity in Miami. I hope he can continue to do that….unless we play them. Hats off to both guys, to the success they're bringing each team," said Jermon Bushrod, Saints offensive lineman.
"It's good to see guys out there doing well. Sproles is a great player. He came in and has been a tremendous asset to the team. He creates a lot of things for us. Reggie did the same thing. Unfortunately he had to go, but his career is still on the up and up," said Devery Henderson, Saints wide receiver.
"Being a teammate of his, I'm very excited for Reggie. He's found success in Miami. You always have guys that move on and you'll root for them. I couldn't be more happy for Reggie. You look what Derron's done, he's been a great teammate. He works hard and he's a perfect fit for what we do offensively. I find myself sitting on the sidelines Sunday, glad I don't have to defend him. I know what those linebackers are going through when he comes through the hole. Run or pass…he's such an explosive back," said Scott Shanle, Saints linebacker.
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