Tonight’s game against the Buffalo Bills will be a homecoming of sorts for one Bills rookie. Former Wayne State running back Joique Bell returns to Detroit with one last shot to impress his new coaching staff.
Joique Bell went undrafted last April but drew interest from a number of teams and signed with Buffalo. He has made the most of his preseason opportunities. Bell enters the preseason finale with the NFL’s fifth best rushing total. His 6.5 yards per carry average is third best among players with at least 15 carries.
The Bills are quite deep at running back with first-round pick C.J. Spiller, Marshawn Lynch, and Fred Jackson but Joique Bell could win himself a spot on the roster. It will come down to a numbers game and an organizational decision as to how to create the most effective roster out of their allotted 53 men, as suggested by the Buffalo News:
Bell would seem to have an edge on Simpson but the Bills could keep just four backs in order to go heavier at another position.
I contacted Bills blogger Paul Miller from BuffaLowDown to get his perspective and received the following response:
Joique Bell has indeed looked nothing sort of spectacular when running the ball this preseason for the Bills with his 6.4 yards average on 22 rushes. Which on most teams would be a lock to gain a roster spot, but unfortunately for Bell, he is part of a team with a crowded backfield.
With C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch all fighting for carries this season, Bell would have to prove himself not only to be a great fourth string running back, but also an elite player on special team. Which so far this season, Bell has been anything but good while on the special teams. He is currently labeled as the worst tackler on the Bills, missing easy tackles and key assignments so far on special teams.
Saying this, rumors around Buffalo are that even though Bell has been electric when running the ball, he is no way considered a lock to make
the team come cut day.
ESPN.com selected Bell as one of the under-the-radar players to watch heading into training camp. They explained the path that kept Bell off the radar:
Circumstances kept him from being recruited like he wanted out of Benton Harbor, Mich. An injury to his high school quarterback forced Bell to fill in his senior year. Colleges didn’t see him as a running back. Michigan and Michigan State projected him at safety. So he went to Detroit’s Division II Wayne State where he could get the touches he craved.
Oh, the things he did with those touches! Bell ran for 6,728 yards and 88 touchdowns over his career at Wayne State and won the Division II’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy as a senior. It is nice to see a guy with local ties making the most of his opportunity. I will be rooting for the Lions tonight, but you can be sure that I also want to see some good things from Joique Bell.