Bell happy to trade followers for a job

GREEN BAY, Wis. – New Green Bay Packers running back Kahlil Bell might not be one of those guys who constantly checks how many people follow him on Twitter. However, the former Chicago Bears running back couldn’t help but notice what happened after he tweeted that he was signing with the Packers on Monday.

“It’s funny, when I put it on my Twitter, I lost like 500 followers,” Bell said Wednesday after his first practice in Green Bay. “Honestly, it’s the NFC North. I’m very familiar with the teams in this division, and it’s icing on the cake that we get a chance to play Chicago.”

Who knows what Bell’s role will be by the time he plays his old team in Week 17? For now, the fifth-year veteran is just trying to get acclimated to football again after being away from the game since he was cut by the New York Jets before the season.

“I’m just happy, and I’m grateful and I’m humbled to be here,” Bell said.

Perhaps the highlight of his career came right here at Lambeau Field on Christmas 2011, when he rushed for 121 yards on 23 carries in a 35-21 loss to the Packers. It remains the only 100-yard rushing game of Bell’s career.

“I remember coming up here to Lambeau, and it was my first NFL start,” Bell said. “It was a good day individually, but this game’s not about individual accolades. It’s about winning as a team. Even though it was nice to get an opportunity to start and showcase my talent on an individual stage at that point in time, we still got blown out and we didn’t make the playoffs. That’s what resonates with me more than anything else.”

The Packers were in need of a third running back behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks after rookie Johnathan Franklin was placed on injured reserve last week because of a neck injury. Franklin was injured on the opening kickoff against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 24, and the Packers played with only two halfbacks last Thursday at the Detroit Lions.

Bell also has some experience as a kick returner, most of it in the preseason during his time with the Bears, but the Packers haven’t said how they plan to use him.

“We looked at that,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We also looked at the responsibilities he’s had in the past on special teams. I’ve been impressed with him in the classroom as far as his recall of his past offenses and language that was used that relates to us. We’re trying to get him ready for both running back and special teams.”

As for Twitter, Bell might need to change his handle from @KahlilBell32 because he’s wearing jersey number 22 with the Packers.