Bell benched in first quarter for team rules violation

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Lions' running back Joique Bell rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown Sunday despite being benched in the first quarter for violating team rules.

Chicago — For the second time in three weeks, Lions coach Jim Caldwell sat one of his starters for the first quarter due to a violation of team rules.

In Sunday's 20-14 win over the Bears, Joique Bell didn't a single snap in the first quarter. Reggie Bush started the game, Theo Riddick played the next two snaps and when George Winn entered on the first series, it became clear Bell was being punished.

"You've got to talk to coach," Bell said when asked why he missed the first quarter.

Caldwell's only explanation was that Bell violated team rules.

Even after missing the first quarter, Bell had a strong game Sunday, finishing with 13 carries for 74 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown in which he cut outside, juked two defenders and broke a tackle attempt by safety Brock Vereen.

Bush played well, too, and finished with seven carries for 54 yards and six catches for 44 yards. In the first quarter, Bush converted a fourth down with a 21-yard reception and scored on a 13-yard rushing touchdown on back-to-back plays.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew sat the first quarter of the Lions' Week 14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and FOX Sports reported last week that Pettigrew's punishment stemmed from him missing a meeting.

Bell said after the game he's never been late or missed a meeting, but wouldn't provide any more clarity.

Meanwhile, Caldwell said he's not worried about the two recent incidents costing players time on the field even as the team readies for the playoffs.

"I'm not concerned at all," he said. "It's the way this game is. If you've been around it long enough, you know there's some ups and downs. Not everything's perfect; not everybody's going to do things exactly the way you'd like. That's why you have rules, so you enforce them and move on."

Bell has been the Lions' top runner this year, but the team has struggled running the ball most of the season. On Sunday, the Lions finished with a season-best 138 rushing yards on a solid 5.3-yard average per carry.

"There was an emphasis to run the ball well," Bush said. "We knew in order for us to win at this time of the year, we need to be able to run the ball. I think that everyone on offense really took that to heart and really focused on being successful today running the football."