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Joique Bell assumes role as veteran in running backs room

ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Things are somewhat different for Joique Bell these days.

Throughout most of his career, he has been a player fighting for a roster spot. Last season, his role was secured, but he didn’t have to do much leading in the room or on the field. The Detroit Lions had the loquacious Reggie Bush to handle that.

Now Bush is gone, as are fullbacks Montell Owens and Jed Collins, who could be looked to for leadership. Bell is the de factor leader among a group of inexperienced younger players.

“It’s different, man. It’s different,” Bell said. “Definitely Reggie and me grew a bond over the past couple of years. He’s a great player. Started off as teammates and ended up being brothers, man, still in contact to this day.

“Hard loss but the young guys are stepping up.”

Bell is coming off arguably the most productive season of his career. Due to Bush’s ankle injuries, he became the Lions’ lead back with a career-high 223 carries for a career-high 860 yards in an otherwise lacking Lions run game.

He’s also the only back on the Lions roster with major rushing experience. Ameer Abdullah and Zach Zenner are rookies. Theo Riddick was primarily used as a pass catcher last season with only 29 carries for 76 yards – and a career-long run of 9 yards – in two years. Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he envisions a role for multiple backs in Detroit’s offense – not surprising considering the Lions used backs in different roles last season and the Saints-based offense the team runs typically employs multiple backs in various roles.

But Bell is the man with experience and the one expected to receive the majority of early carries once he returns from offseason surgeries he didn’t want to talk about Wednesday.

“If a guy is able to play well for an extended period of time, he’ll be an elder statesman and you’ll have several young guys there behind you,” Caldwell said. “That’s the case with Joique right now, but he’s not able to do a whole lot out here now.

“But he’s out there, he’s trying to help coach the young guys, he’s doing all the things that he possibly can do to stay involved in it.”