Joique Bell has quietly shaped into the Detroit Lions backup running back. Despite his role as the backup, Bell has often been the back kept in the game as the Lions scramble to come back and win at the end of games. Bell has had a long journey in the NFL, playing for several teams and being a member of practice squads. The running back was born in Michigan and attended college at Wayne State University, a Division 2 school in close proximity to Ford Field.
At the start of the 2012 season, Bell was far down on the depth chart for the Lions. A suspension to Mikel Leshoure did leave the position of running back somewhat up in the air. Bell impressed the Lions during preseason and was given one of the final positions on the 2012 Week 1 roster.
Bell does see minimal rushing attempts in the Lions games. In seven games, Bell has carried the ball only 30 times, rushing for 116 yards. Bell’s 3.9 yard average ranks only .1 behind starter Leshoure, who has carried the ball 76 times. Bell scored a touchdown in Week 1 versus the St. Louis Rams.
Despite fumbling the ball in the red zone against the Chicago Bears, the Lions went back to Bell in Week 8. Bell was the running back in the game for the majority of the second half. The running back remains a favorite of the coaches because he is a finisher, and possesses excellent receiving capabilities out of the backfield. In fact, Bell’s 227 receiving yards on the season rank second in the NFC. Only Darren Sproles (323) has more receiving yards by a NFC running back in the 2012 season.
Bell is a great success story for young football fans out there. The undrafted running back came from a small Division 2 school and has been cut from four NFL teams. Bell has been a part of practice squads and preseason rosters for the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, and New Orleans Saints. Bell was signed by the Buffalo Bills in 2010, but cut shortly after.
While in his senior season at Wayne State University, Bell won the Harlon Hill Trophy. The trophy is the Division 2 equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Bell rushed for 2084 yards and 29 touchdowns in his senior year to win the trophy. Other NFL players who have won the award include Danny Woodhead and Bernard Scott.