Though he played well last year, the Lions’ acquisition of Bush put Bell’s role in question. Presumably, Bell was going to play second-fiddle to Mikel Leshoure, who just a couple years ago was a second-round draft pick by the Lions. Actually, the reverse has happened, and Bell is not only the Lions’ second-leading rusher, but also the team leader in rushing touchdowns and a valuable target in the short passing game. According to Pro Football Focus, he is the Lions’ highest-graded running back with an overall grade of +7.0 this season. Not at all bad for an undrafted played picked up on waivers in late 2011.
It seems like Joique Bell is nothing but impact sometimes. He takes less than half the team’s offensive snaps and has only 62 rushing attempts on the season, but he still has as many rushing touchdowns as the rest of the team combined, is third on the team in receptions, and is on pace for 1,000 total yards. He fights for extra yardage, and he seems to pick up a first down just about every time he touches the ball.
He did have a very negative impact play when he fumbled late against Chicago, giving them a chance to comeback in what should have been a blowout, but that’s his only fumble all season, which is impressive for a guy who has earned more than half his rushing yards after contact.
Many people thought Mikel Leshoure would be doing what Bell is doing now, but Bell has just plain outperformed him. He’s become an extremely valuable third down/short yardage back in the mold of a Kevin Faulk.
Bell’s numbers aren’t flashy to look at, but he has a role and he performs it well. He shows great vision and is entertaining to watch every single week. It is stunning how much production the Lions are getting out of previously undrafted players. Bell, Joseph Fauria, LaAdrian Waddle, and Ashlee Palmer are all undrafted players that have all started at least one game for the Lions this season.