ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Sitting at his stall in the Buffalo Bills' locker room last Friday, Reggie Bush wasn't going to complain about his minimal role in the offense through the first two games of the regular season.
"I'm just waiting for my number to be called, that's it," he said. "Wait for my opportunity and do the best I can to stay ready."
At that point, Bush had taken only three carries, all in the Bills' season-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He lost a total of four yards on those runs and subsequently played only two snaps in a Sept. 15 loss to the New York Jets.
Last Sunday, the former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall pick in 2006 was active and healthy but never entered the Bills' 33-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Instead, the Bills turned to Mike Gillislee and rookie fifth-round pick Jonathan Williams to take a total of six carries behind LeSean McCoy.
Bush's disappearance from the offense is a development that would seemingly put the veteran's job in jeopardy when the Bills must clear two 53-man roster spots when defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson return from four-game substance-abuse suspensions next week.
The Bills signed Bush on August 1 to help fill the void created when former No. 2 running back Karlos Williams began training camp on the active/non-football illness list and was later released. The Bills, who gave Bush a $375,000 signing bonus and a $1 million base salary that is now effectively guaranteed, planned on using him as their primary punt returner and potentially putting him and McCoy on the field together at the same time.
"He's such a talent, but we want him to be almost like that Ferrari that we unleash and let people be like, 'Oh man, he's out there!'" coach Rex Ryan told NFL Network in August. "But I also don't want to run him into the ground."
So far, the Bills have neither unleashed Bush nor run him into the ground. In addition to remaining on the sideline when the offense has been the on field, Bush hasn't been a part of special teams units after the Bills signed return man Brandon Tate earlier this month.
Even so, Ryan isn't writing off his big-name backup running back yet.
"I think each week is different," he said Monday. "I think that’s something he could have a big role, could have a small role, could have some kind of role for us. And that’s something about have a guy with his skill set that you can do different things with him.
"The thing I really like about Reggie is, when [receiver] Greg [Salas], we saw late in the week, Greg has this groin injury, we said, ‘Well, for an emergency, we need to teach Reggie how to play the slot receiver.' So we had plays designed for him to play the slot. We never got to it, but he was ready to go. That was impressive. I think for a guy, it’s tough because you don’t if you’re going to play or what, but you’ve got to be prepared, and he was."