A Texas-Sized Subplot
Mario Williams and Reggie Bush (AP Photo)
Mario Williams and Reggie Bush (AP Photo)
Posted Aug 14, 2008
Charlie Bernstein

There usually isn’t a lot of hype surrounding week two preseason games unless Brett Favre is somehow involved. The Texans week two matchup against the New Orleans Saints has a major subplot thanks to the battle between the top two draft picks of 2006, Mario Williams and Reggie Bush.

This will be the second unofficial “Williams-Bush Bowl,” as their two teams squared off last season in November, a game in which the Texans won, 23-10. In that game, Mario Williams logged six tackles and a sack, and Reggie Bush had just 34 yards on the ground. Bush was asked by reporters if that game reminded him of how close he was to becoming a Houston Texan—

“I don’t think about that. Once I became a Saint, I didn’t think about it. I try to block that out of my mind as far as thinking about how close I was to being a Texan. That’s two years in the past. I’m focused on bigger and better things right now.”

Even though Williams and Bush play different positions, on different sides of the ball, in different conferences, they will likely be compared to each other for the rest of their careers. The Saints running back doesn’t try to think about the comparisons.

“I blocked that out of my mind,” Bush told reporters. “I don’t worry about that. That story’s for you guys to write.”

Bush claims to have spent time with Williams earlier this year and despite the draft status of the two, they don’t speak about the comparisons.

“We actually hung out a little bit this offseason at some different events,” said Bush. “We’re fine. We talk like normal people. We don’t worry about that.”

The Texans front office were deemed as nothing less than morons after passing on what was supposed to be the closest thing to a sure star in Reggie Bush with the top pick in the 2006 draft, especially after Mario Williams posted just 4.5 sacks as a rookie. Bush enjoyed great success that season while resurrecting the Saints and helping to take them to the NFC Championship Game.

In year two, the tide had turned quite a bit. Mario Williams became an impact player as he racked up 14 sacks and led the Texans to their best record in franchise history. Bush seemed to regress a bit and without Deuce McCallister for much of the season, some of Bush’s weaknesses were exposed as he had trouble rushing up the middle and the Saints finished with a disappointing 7-9 record.

Bush went from superstar to potential bust in many experts eyes, but he uses the negativity as motivation.

“I know I’m not a bust,” Bush exclaimed. “I know I’m far from it. I know there’s a lot of hard work, focus, determination and patience involved. You have to go out there and continue to work your way through it.”

To get ready for Saturday night’s game, the Texans and Saints are practicing together, something that doesn’t happen as much now as it did in the past. Reggie Bush seemed to relish the opportunity—

“It’s a chance to practice against another team and get some different looks. It’s a good chance to compare ourselves to where we are at as a team and where we stand. I thought we looked pretty good today. I didn’t watch our defense, but from an offensive perspective I think we looked pretty good. That’s what you look for.”

With the premium on pass rushing in the NFL, and the fact that late-round running backs have been able to make an impact early on in the league, such as Ryan Grant of Green Bay, it seems as if the Texans made the proper move in selecting Williams ahead of Bush.

“He (Williams) is a great player,” said Bush. “He has a long career ahead of him. I think he’s going to be great in this league. All the best to him.”

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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