Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan doesn’t recall the exact moment but he said there was a point last year where running back Joique Bell combined his talent hunger and ridiculously strong legs to become an NFL running back. Bell said the light came on so to speak as soon as he made the Lions’ 53-man roster. “When I made the team I knew it was a close call” he said. “I never wanted to make it close again so I came out and did what I have to do.” Bell a Benton Harbor native went undrafted out of Wayne State in 2010 and although he landed with four different teams before signing with Detroit at the end of the 2011 season he never really had a shot at being a running back. In Bell’s first game with the Lions last year he had one carry a 1-yard touchdown. In his second his role expanded. He had six carries for just 14 yards and two receptions for 59 yards and that second catch proved something to Linehan. “When we played early in the season last year Joique was in the game on a third-and-long against San Francisco” Linehan said. “We called a screen and he weaved through the whole defense one of the best defenses in the league for 50 yards. “I’m like ‘Wow I didn’t know Joique had that in him.’ He’s doing a great job for us and I hope he keeps it up.” Bell blossomed into a solid backup behind Mikel Leshoure last year and he’s done the same thing in 2013 behind free agent acquisition Reggie Bush and even jumped Leshoure a second-round pick in 2011. With Bush (knee) probable for Sunday's game against the Bears Bell will likely re-assume his role as the starter. The last time the Lions beat the Bears on Monday night in October 2011 running back Jahvid Best had 163 rushing yards including an 88-yard touchdown so Bush might be able to similarly use his speed to beat the Bears. But with wide receiver Nate Burleson (broken arm) out everyone on offense will need to assume a bigger role. Lions players credit Bell’s work ethic for why he was able to earn a role on offense but genetics played a factor too.
Strong legs carry Joique Bell to key role with Lions' offense
Detroit News | Sep 28