While attending classes at Wayne State University, Joique Bell was less than 2 miles away from Ford Field in Detroit. In his senior year with the Wayne State Warriors, Bell rushed for 2,084 yards and crossed the goal line 29 times. For his efforts, Bell was awarded the Harlon Hill Trophy, which goes to the Division II player of the year.
Though he was only a stone’s throw away, Bell took the long road in getting to the Detroit Lions’ locker room. After unsuccessful stints with the Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles (twice), Bell was finally signed by his hometown squad in December of 2011.
He was handed the ball 82 times in 2012, and rushed for 414 yards. The 2012 Detroit Lions were not built to be a running team, but without even a threat to hurt defenses on the ground, they struggled.
Cue the signing of Reggie Bush in the offseason. It’s hard to say whether or not Bell was happy to hear the news of the Lions signing Bush, but in reality it was the best thing that could have happened to him. Bush provides the Lions with that much-needed threat, giving the offense another option when teams choose to gear up against Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and the passing game.
In 2012, the Lions totaled over 100 yards rushing in a game only seven times, and they never hit the 150-yard mark. In 2013, through 13 games, they have already passed the century mark eight times, including 241 yards on the ground vs. Green Bay on Thanksgiving.
Bell, with his bruising 220-pound frame, provides the perfect compliment to Bush. We saw last week that he may not be ready to carry the load himself, totaling only 69 yards on 23 carries when subbing in for an injured Bush, and fumbling the ball twice. But the one-two punch has been successful overall, with Bush’s big-play ability and Bell’s hard running giving the Lions’ coaching staff some options in the backfield.