Tudor Dixon picks ex-state Rep. Shane Hernandez as running mate

Lions rusher Bell beginning to gather steam

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

After averaging just 1.1 yards per carry in the Lions’ first three games, Joique Bell has suddenly looked like the team’s best running back again.

He averaged 7 yards per carry in Week 7 and 8 yards per carry in Week 8, but as the Lions have continued to trail early in games, it’s been hard to tell exactly what Bell is capable of this season.

But Bell’s game in Week 8 — seven carries for 56 yards — was the top individual rushing effort for the Lions this year, and he had a 32-yard gain, the team’s longest of the season.

“It was nice to pop a long one,” quarterback Matthew Stafford said of Bell’s performance against the Chiefs in London. “I feel like that was the first long one we had in a while, and it was good, put a little air in the football. The game dictated a tough situation for us both offensively and defensively. It’s on us to stay out of those situations so we can play balanced offense and balanced defense.”

Bell’s 32-yard run was just the third of at least 20 yards for the Lions this season. Rookie Ameer Abdullah had a 24-yard touchdown in Week 1, and safety Isa Abdul-Quddus gained 30 on a fake punt in Week 6.

The Lions will surely try to establish the run early against the Packers Sunday (1 p.m., FOX) as Green Bay ranks 28th in rush defense, allowing 125.1 yards per game. Of course, the Lions rank 32nd in rushing, so there’s no telling if the Lions will be able to take advantage of the matchup.

Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said Abdullah’s role will be “growing” after he had just one carry in Week 8, but with Bell looking healthy after missing three games with an ankle injury related to offseason surgery, the Lions might continue turning to the veteran who led the team in rushing last season.

And although it won’t dictate if he plays more than Abdullah or receiving back Theo Riddick, Bell is the offensive captain Sunday.

“He’s looking better and better every week I look at him, so I think he was successful with what we asked him to do in the run game,” Cooter said of Bell’s performance in London. “The number didn’t end up being a ton of rushes last week and a little bit of that is on me, a little bit of that is game situation. At a certain point, score-wise, you have to do what you have to do, but Joique is looking good.”

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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