Caldwell doesn't know when Joique Bell will return

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Joique Bell

Allen Park — Joique Bell said he expected to be healthy in time for training camp this year. But just three days before the Lions begin practice, coach Jim Caldwell said he doesn't know the timetable for the starting running back's return.

Bell, who led the Lions with 860 rushing yards in 2014, is on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to recover from offseason surgeries, though Caldwell declined to say whether Bell's knee or Achilles tendon was the lasting issue.

For training camp, players on the PUP list can be activated as soon as they're healthy. The Lions placed Bell, right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and defensive end Jason Jones on PUP this week, and even though all three could be ready for the season, there are concerns about exactly when they'll return.

"The doctors take a look at them, they make a determination of when they can go and we go from there," Caldwell said Friday. "But they're all making excellent progress."

Bell, 28, missed all of organized team activities and minicamp, though he watched from the field. He sat all of the offseason practices in 2014, too, before returning from a knee injury for training camp.

"I'm not sure how long it's going to take," Caldwell said. "I do know one thing -- that he's coming along quickly and we'll see what the doctor says."

As long as Bell is out, Theo Riddick and second-round pick Ameer Abdullah will have a chance to impress the coaches and earn larger roles. While there are concerns about Bell's fitness level whenever he returns from the lower-body injuries, his experience should help him avoid being behind schematically.

"From a schematic standpoint, he understands and knows how to run the ball," Caldwell said. "He knows the system, and we're just majorly concerned right now with obviously getting him healthy. And he's well on his way to that."