Michael Bush is a very patient man. Relegated for the most part to the sidelines while Matt Forte got starter’s reps, Bush wasn't sure if this year would be a rerun of his past few years in the league or if he'd finally get a chance.
"It really didn't bother me watching Forte do his thing," Bush said in the locker room after Sunday’s game. "I've been in that spot to a great or lesser extent since I broke my leg in college. I've been viewed as a 'reliable backup' and not much more. "
Now Bush has his chance, with Fort injured (ankle) and out for an undetermined amount of time.
"Nobody hopes to get a starting slot through another player's misfortune," Bush said. "But the thing is, if your primary role is to be a backup, you need to be ready to perform at all times. You never know for sure when the coaches will be calling on you."
Bush had an up-and-down performance against the Rams, rushing 18 times for 55 yards, catching the ball twice for 18 yards, and scoring a 3-yard touchdown with 1:56 left in the second quarter that put the Bears up for good.
"I think I fit into the game plan fairly well today," Bush said. "We had a variety of players out there including Bell, Allen and Hester, as well as myself . Giving the Rams defense a number of options to insider as far as defending us is always a good plan."
Bush said he wasn’t bothered when Kahlil Bell, who was cut two weeks ago, was brought back to Chicago following Forte’s injury.
"Competition for the position is fine with me. It gives me something to aim for. I feel that I can excel at this position and any opportunity to show that to the coaches is good as far as I am concerned."
Bell had 10 carries for just 20 yards, so it appears Bush’s job is safe. The Bears had 20 first downs and 274 net yards versus the Rams – not great but a marked improvement over least week's dismal performance against Green Bay at Lambeau Field.
"There was pressure on us for sure," Bush said. "Nobody wanted a repeat of what happened in Green Bay. But in a way, that loss gave us a stronger purpose. Nobody wants to look bad on national television. In practice this week we went back to basics and rebuilt a little bit. "
Although the Rams are a young team in transition, Bush said nobody on the Bears expected an easy victory.
"[If you] do that, more times than not you'll be getting a nasty surprise. The Rams came in here well prepared. They have a strong defense. We played hard to get this win."
Bush will continue to do the heavy lifting for as long as Forte is out, which could be up to a month.
"I want to play well. I want to contribute,” he said. “For most of my pro career I've been taken somewhat for granted. Being the reliable backup is fine but getting in as a starter is every player’s goal. I see that within my reach right now and I plan to do whatever I can to make that happen."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.