After the signing of Reggie Bush, the Detroit Lions appeared to have plenty of talent at the running back position. Bush’s signing leaves questions as to the use of Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell, who were both key parts to the 2012 Lions’ offense.
Bell has decided to pursue being the Lions’ kick return man in the 2013 NFL season. The Lions have parted ways with Stefan Logan and are having an open completion for the return spot. Bell will compete with Mike Thomas and newly signed 2013 NFL Draft picks Corey Fuller and Darius Slay.
In my article about Slay, I listed him as the favorite as the return man, due to his impressive speed. With the 36th pick in the draft, the Lions took Slay, who posted a 4.36 40 yard dash time at the 2013 Scouting Combine. This ranked first among all cornerbacks at the annual competition. Slay played running back and cornerback in high school and also has experience returning kicks. At Itwamba Community College, where Slay attended prior to Mississippi State, Slay was one of the top return men in all of junior college.
The drafting of Theo Riddick with the 199th overall pick was a bit of a surprise. The pick could also leave Leshoure or Bell with less playing time and less targets out of the backfield. Riddick played both running back and wide receiver at Notre Dame. He posted career numbers of 1169 rushing yards and 1263 receiving yards. With dual threat options, Riddick could become the next Bush, a great receiving running back.
In 2012, Bell was a great piece to the Lions’ high scoring offense. He was the second leading rusher, behind Leshoure, with 414 yards and an impressive 5.0 average. Bell had 52 receptions for 485 yards in the 2012 season. Bell’s impressive receiving skills ranked him fifth in the NFL in receptions by running backs.
Bell served as the kick returner against the Chicago Bears in Week 17. In two kick returns, Bell averaged 27 yards per attempt. Aside from Stefan Logan, Bell was the only Lion to have more than one kick return during the season.
As he proved by going from Division II to the NFL, Bell is a persistent hard worker and very determined man. Bell might be right to recognize his diminishing playing time with the arrival of Bush. Rather than be upset or ask to be traded, Bell is focusing on another area he can help his team.