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Reggie Bush confronting uncertain future with Miami Dolphins

Barring an unforeseen reversal, Reggie Bush will soon join the ranks of the unemployed for the first time in his life.

Don’t expect him to collect a weekly check from Uncle Sam, though. He will get a job somewhere come March.

He just has little confidence that it will be in Miami.

Bush, the team’s leading rusher and biggest star, could be playing the first of his final three games in a Dolphins uniform when the Jaguars come to town Sunday.

His contract expires at season’s end, and as of Wednesday, the team had made no moves to re-sign him, he said.

“It’s getting pretty late,” Bush told The Miami Herald. “It’s getting pretty late.

“It’s a little uneasy and unsure, but at the same time, exciting, because you know there are opportunities out there. I’d love to stay here, but part of me says, ‘well, there’s nothing been on the table quite yet.’ I’m remaining optimistic.”

Bush is the first to acknowledge that not much has gone as planned this year. Before the season began, he went public with his goal of leading the league in rushing; through Week 14, he ranked 18th with 791 yards. Although Bush has not missed a game all season, a September knee injury raised fresh questions about his durability.

Still, there’s much about Bush that’s appealing for teams needing a running back. He has averaged 4.8 yards per rush since joining the Dolphins. With a strong finish to the season, he could eclipse 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season. And he should have a good day against Jacksonville; the Jaguars own the league’s No. 31 run defense, generously allowing 145.7 yards per game.

Plus, he remains a threat in the passing game, although those opportunities have been limited this season.

Then there are the intangibles. Bush is a strong leader in the locker room, and one of the most popular players on the roster. Bush agreed to host the Dolphins’ annual holiday party for area kids Wednesday, along with Brian Hartline.

“I like the way he goes about his business,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “He’s made a valuable contribution on the field, and I think he’s a guy that young guys look up to. He’s a good example for the younger players.”

Of course, that and 20 cents will buy you a share of stock in Kodak. But neither appears to have much applicable value.

If the Dolphins do enter negotiations with Bush and his agent Joel Segal, they will do so from a position of power.

Paying top dollar for running backs is passé in today’s NFL, and if Bush believes he’s worth $5 million per season, the Dolphins — flush with running back depth — could pass. Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller have both shown flashes this season, although neither came close to matching Bush’s consistent production.

Bush conceded that he has thought about life after the Dolphins, but said he doesn’t have any possible destinations in mind if he were to leave Miami.

“It comes down to who needs me, who wants me, and, obviously, money,” Bush said.

But at this stage of his career, Bush said, the first two criteria outweigh the latter. He has made a fortune in his first seven years; he and his family are already taken care of, Bush said.

Instead, his top priority is to be the clear-cut No. 1 option on a winning team. He knows his window to win another Super Bowl closes more by the day.

“I want to play another five years,” Bush said. “I think 12 years, as a running back, that’s a good place to start.”

• Randy Starks (non-football personal), Davone Bess (back) and Koa Misi (ankle) did not practice Thursday. Jimmy Wilson (hip) and Chris Clemons (ribs) participated fully after being limited the day before.

Wilson, who probably sustained the injury while roughing Patriots punter Zoltan Mesko two weeks ago, said he expects to play Sunday.

• Speaking to local reporters Thursday ahead of this weekend’s 1972 Dolphins reunion celebration, Don Shula had praise for Philbin and his team.

“I like him, I like his mannerisms,” Shula said. “I like the young quarterback. I think he’s got a chance to improve. You know that they’re headed in the right direction. That’s all the fans can ask for. You keep looking for improvement.”

• The Dolphins-Jaguars game will be televised, the team announced late Thursday.

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