Bradley Handwerger / Eyewitness Sports

METAIRIE, La. ― For those wondering about just how much Reggie Bush actually means to New Orleans' offense, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has an answer for you.

'Here we are planning against him, whether it's for our defense or special teams, (and) he is an issue of big magnitude,' Carroll said.

Carroll should know best. Not only is he charged with breaking down the Saints film ahead of Saturday's NFC Wild Card playoff game, he coached the standout running back at Southern California.

He knows the troubles Bush can cause.

'We had all the problems you can imagine in spring football,' Carroll said. 'This isn't new to me.'

Bush's role will now likely carry more weight with fellow running backs Pierre Thomas (ankle) and Chris Ivory (foot) going on injured reserve as the work week began.

The timing for Bush's complete recovery couldn't have come at a better time. Bush broke his right fibula on Sept. 20 against San Francisco and didn't return until New Orleans' Thanksgiving Day game against Dallas. He missed eight games and nine weeks including the bye week.

But in this past week's game against Tampa Bay, Bush looked his sharpest, finishing with a season-high 70 yards on the ground and 55 yards in the air.

'We're ready for him the best we can at this point,' Carroll said. 'You can imagine how much respect I have for the way he plays and what he can do and how he can affect the football game.'

While those who pay attention to the Saints wonder if Bush is meeting expectations, Carroll has no such thoughts.

Not after watching Bush on film.

'I think Sean knows exactly how to use Reggie,' Carroll said.' He knows exactly what his strengths are and how to cause problems. In that role that he plays for them, he's very effective and does control the game and that's the kinds of things he did early on.

'Now that he's over his injury here and back playing steady, I think Reggie still has tremendous amount to offer and will continue to do that, maybe even in this game.'

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