Running back Joique Bell is open to the occasional trick play like a halfback pass. 'I just like to show all my talents out there,' he says. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park — Joique Bell’s knee injury has held him out of Lions organized team activities, but it hasn’t stopped the running back from being active during the sessions.
While his fellow running backs go through position drills, Bell uses a pad to try to knock the ball free, performing a task usually handled by an equipment manager or assistant. When the offense works in its new spray drill with each receiver catching a ball, Bell stands in the backfield and slings passes to a non-primary receiver.
And just as it did when he was throwing random passes during practice last season, Bell’s arm looks pretty good.
“I just like to show all my talents out there,” Bell said Wednesday. “As much as possible, I like to get out there and throw just in case they want to throw in a halfback pass here or there.”
Bell said there hasn’t been any talk yet of trick plays, but if there is a halfback pass, he likely would get the nod over Reggie Bush because he played quarterback his senior year at Benton Harbor. He also threw a touchdown pass in each of his four seasons at Wayne State, going 9-for-17 for 280 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
“Just like wildcat, play action and I’ll drop back, and, you know, do what I got to do,” said Bell, who signed a three-year, $9.3 million deal this offseason.
As for Bell’s knee, he said the current injury is related to the tendinitis he had last season. He wouldn’t say whether he had surgery this offseason and said the Instagram photo from this month of his left knee wrapped with crutches by his side was due to swelling from rehab exercises.
He also wouldn’t say whether he’ll be available for the final four OTAs next week or mandatory minicamp the following week.
“I’m working as hard as I can to get back as fast as I can,” he said.
In Jim Caldwell’s three seasons as coach in Indianapolis, the Colts had two passes thrown by non-quarterbacks — running back Joseph Addai and wide receiver Reggie Wayne each had an attempt in 2009 — so it’s unlikely Bell will have a chance to show off his arm.
But, he should still be in for a big role as he and Bush will continue to handle the majority of the running back duties. The duo became the first in NFL history with 500 rushing yards and 500 yards apiece last season.
And though Bell’s bruising style fits more of what Caldwell and new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi have used, Bell isn’t expecting any major change to how he and Bush split playing time.
“I think we’re going to have a very balanced offense this year,” he said. “Sometimes if we have to pound, we have to pound. We’re going to game plan it. We have the athletic ability on this team to do what we want to do in order to win games.
“So if we want to run, we can run. I know it’s been in the past when they said the Lions don’t have a running game, but we have a running game now.”
Bell also expects the offense to improve this season, partly because of how much he’s seen players staying after OTAs to work.
“We’ve got people staying after practice getting extra work in on their own because we know the potential of this team,” he said. “We’re going to keep riding. If you’re not a Lions fan right now, you better hop on the bandwagon.”