Joique Bell didn't go to USC. He didn't win a Heisman Trophy. He didn't even date Kim Kardashian.

In other words, Bell is not Reggie Bush.

But while he might not have the same kind of public profile, nor the same kind of contract -- in fact, he's a restricted free agent -- Bell just might have what it takes to overtake Bush in the Detroit Lions' backfield if he re-signs with the team.

"I have no question he could start," former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said during his last week on the job. "He's a guy that can handle a pretty heavy load. The thing about him is he has versatility to do that. He can be in the role we have him now (or he can) start a game. He's a guy that can go out there and get 100 yards for you running the football as well as produce in the passing game.

"There's no question he can do it."

Linehan was a huge Bell fan, but he was fired after the season along with head coach Jim Schwartz. That casts some uncertainty on everyone's future, particularly free agents such as Bell.

But it's difficult to see a scenario in which the Lions don't bring back their burgeoning tailback.

While Bush has been in the spotlight since the days he was rewriting the record books at Helix High School in Southern California, Bell is the ultimate underdog tale. He played his college ball at Wayne State, and though he won the Harlon Hill Trophy as Division II's best player, he almost didn't make the NFL at all.

He told a story this year of getting a call from New England's Bill Belichick after going undrafted in 2010. Belichick was offering a contract, and Bell said he'd call right back after speaking with his agent.