When the games count, Calvin Johnson will return for the Detroit Lions, and Johnson will get many Matthew Stafford off-his-back-foot throws his way.
But this preseason, with Johnson missing two game because of a bruised knee, it's becoming clear the Lions are also going to take advantage of their investment in running back Reggie Bush.
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Bush had 11 touches on the Lions' first 19 plays against New England. And Detroit's 21st play was an incompletion to Bush. Bush, signed as a free agent this offseason, was coming off a preseason game in which he had eight carries and five catches in a short outing.
The Lions wouldn't keep feeding Bush the ball if he didn't look pretty good, and he still has the same old slick moves once he gets into space.
On a screen pass in the first quarter, Bush stopped on a dime and let two defenders pass (how many times have we seen that from him?) and took off for a 67-yard gain. He had 103 yards receiving in the first half. Bush still has to get it going in the running game, considering he has just 21 yards on 18 preseason carries, but the box will be a lot less packed once Johnson is back on the outside.
Overall it was a pretty good outing for the Lions in the third preseason game against the Patriots. The front was very tough, holding New England to 32 rushing yards on 16 attempts in the first half. The Lions forced four turnovers in the first 18:22 against an offense that is fairly good. Detroit led 16-3 at halftime before pulling most of its starters. Aside from Stafford throwing every pass with different and terrible mechanics, the Lions have a lot to be pleased with now that the preseason is done for almost all their starters.
If nothing else, they've learned this preseason that Bush can be quite a weapon to take some heat off Johnson once the regular season starts.