Lions coaches warned that Joique Bell might not be 100 percent game ready to start the season as he spent most of the offseason recovering from knee and Achilles surgeries and did not play in any of the exhibitions.
So far, the 29-year-old Bell hasn’t yet looked like the hard-hitting back he has been the past few seasons. Through two games he has 16 yards on 10 carries, including just 2 yards on his four runs against the Vikings in Week 2.
“He hasn’t been perfect,” coach Jim Caldwell said Monday. “He’s out there. He did some good things for us.”
The highlights so far for Bell have been his plays in the receiving game with four catches for 43 yards, including gains 18 and 16 yards. However, Bell’s 35 snaps rank third among Lions running backs as rookie Ameer Abdullah leads with 52 and Theo Riddick has 43.
Abdullah, a second-round pick, has looked like the superior option to this point with 53 yards on five catches as well as his 59 rushing yards on 13 carries, though he has one fumble the Lions recovered
Riddick has been more involved in the passing game than the other two backs with seven catches for 78 yards, but he lost a fumble his only carry of the year in Week 2. Each of the two younger players has a touchdown, too, while Bell has yet to score.
No matter which back is featured from game to game, the Lions must start to run the ball better as their 107 rushing yards rank 31st in the league and 3.3-yard average ranks 29th. Plus, 19 of those yards are from quarterback Matthew Stafford.
“We’ve got to do a better job of blocking,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got to do a better job of reading and getting into the proper holes, and those are the two things that jump out at you.”