NFL

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Lions RB Joique Bell enjoys homecoming practice at Wayne St, relishes his winding path to NFL

  • Print

DETROIT - Joique Bell's winding path to the NFL began at Wayne State, where he starred on a small stage in the shadow of Detroit's skyline.

Bell won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the NCAA Division II Player of the Year in 2009 after rushing for 2,084 yards and 29 touchdowns.

No one, though, in the league was impressed enough to draft him.

"Coming out undrafted from a small school, a lot of people counted me out," Bell recalled.

Four years later, he has established himself as player valued enough to get a $9.3 million, three-year contract from the Detroit Lions.

Bell was back on his college field Wednesday night with his NFL teammates for a public practice.

"It definitely started here," he said. "I'm definitely home. ... This is a day I'll never forget."

The beginning of Bell's career in the league was forgettable, bouncing around with Buffalo, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and New Orleans over his first two years. He was signed by the Eagles off the Bills' practice squad in 2010, where he understandably struggled to make a roster that included running backs Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

Lions running backs coach Curtis Modkins, who was an assistant in Buffalo when Bell was trying to break in the league, said that Lynch, Jackson and Spiller were part of the NFL's most talented back field the last 10 years.

When Modkins was in personnel meetings, however, he praised Bell for his intangibles.

"I would say, 'There's this kid from Wayne State, he has something. I don't know what it is,'" Modkins recalled saying back then. "I had a coach that used to tell me, 'It's not about where you're from, it's where you're going and what you do when you get there.'"

The 5-foot-11, 229-pound Bell, who is from Benton Harbor, Michigan, played in every game the previous two seasons for the Lions. He combined for nearly 900 yards of offence in 2012 and almost 1,200 yards on the ground and through the air last year

Lions coach Jim Caldwell was with the Colts when Bell played five games for the franchise in 2010, and has witnessed him add new dimensions to his frame and game.

"Joique can dish it out a little bit, too," Caldwell said. "He's big and strong. He's a bit bigger than he was when we had him in terms of weight and power and size. He's really matured."

Bell can break tackles between the tackles, complimenting Reggie Bush's speed. Bell also was reliable enough to catch 52 and 53 passes the past two years, proving an overlooked player from a small college can make it big.

"I think he's a great inspiration," Caldwell said.

The Lions drew 8,935 people to watch them practice under the lights after a rain storm rolled through the area.

Bell was pretty popular presence at Wayne State — drawing cheers before practice and signing autographs after it — and walked away from the field holding hands with perhaps his biggest fan, Althea Gaddy.

"It means everything to me to see what my son has done from where he comes from," Gaddy said. "When he's happy, I'm happy."

___

Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

___

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/larrylage

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Gary Lawless & Ed Tait try not to bleeping cry over the woesome Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A golfer looks for his ball in a water trap at John Blumberg Golf Course Friday afternoon as geese and goslings run for safety- See Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge- Day 24– June 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Down the Hatch- A pelican swallows a fresh fish that it caught on the Red River near Lockport, Manitoba. Wednesday morning- May 01, 2013   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the biggest disappointment on the Jets to start the season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google