One of the most vital role players for the Lions through eight games, backup tailback Joique Bell, continues to draw rave reviews from the coaching staff for his value as both a runner and a receiver.
The 5'11, 220-pound Bell tallied a career-high 73 yards on 13 carries against the Jaguars on Sunday, and also made his mark as a receiver out of the backfield with three catches for 36 yards. Though he remains behind No. 1 runner Mikel Leshoure on the team's depth chart, Bell's role as a third-down back has taken a great deal of pressure off both Leshoure and quarterback Matthew Stafford in recent weeks.
In addition to ranking fourth on the team in receiving yards with 263, Bell's stellar 4.4 yards per carry average leads all Detroit running backs heading into the second-half of the year. His improved level of play has also helped the offense cushion the loss of Jahvid Best for the season, a notion that head coach Jim Schwartz confirmed to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press on Monday:
Schwartz said Joique Bell, averaging almost 11 yards a catch, has "certainly picked up some of that slack" left by Best's absence.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) November 5, 2012